Dr Matteo Castronovo

Dr Matteo Castronovo


I joined the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds as a Lecturer in Biochemistry in July 2016. I was a Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator at the Regional Centre for Rare Diseases of the University Hospital of Udine, Italy (2016-2021). Before this appointment, I headed the Nanobiophysics Laboratory in the Department of Medical and Biological Sciences at the University of Udine, Italy (2013-16). I also held an appointment at the Aviano National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy (2011-13), and a junior faculty position in the Department of Biology at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA (2009-11).


  • Head of Food Colloids and Bioprocessing Research Group

Research interests

My research programs fall around nanoscience and biotechnology discovery and innovation. I am guided and inspired by the effect of nanoscale confinement on physical and chemical processes underpinning life. My approach integrates experimental and theoretical methods to study nucleic acid self-assembly on surfaces and in solution. An underlying theme of my research is to join fundamental with applied research to develop nanotechnology-based methods for applications in synthetic biology, genetic engineering, and medical and food diagnostics. 

I’ve uncovered novel emergent behaviours of nucleic acids in highly dense environments, including DNA nanostructures. These behaviours reflect structural changes, as well as changes in enzyme diffusion and recognition under conditions of nanoscale confinement and high molecular density. My findings reveal that nucleic acid-nucleic acid and nucleic acid-enzyme interactions proceed in a qualitatively different manner in dense and ordered nanosystems, compared to their interactions in bulk solution or in the presence of macromolecular crowding agents. These findings suggest that nucleic acid self-assembly can be manipulated to deliberately control the biomolecular diffusion and recognition in nanoreactors. My long-term vision is to use DNA nanostructure topology as an engineering parameter to expand DNA function and reactivity. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Nanotechnology, University of Trieste, Italy (2004-2008)
  • MSc in Theoretical Physics, University of Trieste, Italy (2001-2003)
  • BSc in Physical Sciences and Technologies, University of Trieste, Italy (1998-2001)

Research groups and institutes

  • Functional Biopolymers for Food and Health
  • Food Colloids and Processing
  • Food Colloids and Soft Matter at Interfaces
  • Food safety, food security and global health
  • Food Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Obesity, Cancer and Metabolic Disease
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>