Dr Matteo Castronovo

Dr Matteo Castronovo


Dr Matteo Castronovo joined the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds as Lecturer in Biochemistry in July 2016. He was Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator in the Regional Centre for Rare Diseases of the University Hospital of Udine, Italy (2016-2021). Prior to this appointment, he headed the Nanobiophysics Laboratory in the Department of Medical and Biological Sciences at the University of Udine, Italy (2013-16). Dr Castronovo 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).


  • Deputy Director of Research and Innovation
  • Head of Food Colloids and Bioprocessing Research Group

Research interests

Dr Castronovo's research program is in the area of experimental biomolecular nanoscience. A primary goal is to develop innovative approaches to profile protein and nucleic acids in highly heterogeneous tissues, with single-cell resolution. An underlying theme of his research is to join fundamental with applied research. Experimental approaches include the use of atomic force microscopy and nanolithography to study nucleic acid self-assembly on surfaces and in solution, with the goal of developing functional nanodevices.

In his studies, Dr Castronovo has uncovered novel emergent behaviour of nucleic acids in crowded environments, including DNA origami structures. These behaviours reflect structural changes, as well as changes in enzyme diffusion and recognition under conditions of nanoscale confinement and high molecular density. His findings reveal that nucleic acid-nucleic acid and nucleic acid-protein 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 diffusion, recognition, and reactivity of nucleic acid towards enzymes and other ligands. Matteo's long-term vision is that nucleic acid-based biosensors can be developed that can self-adapt to diverse biological microenvironments. In turn, this will allow the development of new bioanalytical approaches that can meet the challenge of the intrinsic heterogeneity of biological tissues.

<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>