Foto del docente

Anna Maria Ghelli

Associate Professor

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology

Academic discipline: BIO/10 Biochemistry

Curriculum vitae


December 12th 1989 Degree in Biological Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy. Final grade: 110/110 cum laude

October 4th 1995 PhD in Biology and Physiology of the Cell, Department of Biology, University of Bologna, Italy.

1995 One year Telethon fellowship (project #616 granted to Dr. Mauro Degli Esposti), University of Bologna

1996-1997 Post doctoral fellowship, Department of Biochemistry, University of Bologna, Italy

Project title: Biochemical aspects of Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy,


1998 - 2011: Permanent Position as Research Associate at the Laboratory of Biochemistry, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Bologna.

2011-2020: Permanent Position as Research Associate at the Laboratory of Biochemistry, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology , University of Bologna.

2020 – to date Permanent Position as Associate Professor at the Laboratory of Biochemistry, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology , University of Bologna.


2001 to 2003: Methods in Biochemistry course for the Degree in Biotechnology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Bologna

2003 - 2012: Biochemistry course for the Degree in Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Bologna

2004 – 2008: Clinical Biochemistry course for the Degree in Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Bologna

2012- to date: Cellular Biochemistry course for the Degree in Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Bologna

2018 – to date: Metabolomics course for the International Degree in Genomics, Faculty of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna.

2022-2024 – Applied Biochemistry course for the Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, University of Bologna.


Dr. Anna Ghelli is a cellular biochemist specialized in bioenergetics. Her work is focused on biochemical aspects of human mitochondrial diseases. In particular, her interest is on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the respiratory chain complexes deficiencies. During her phD, she studied and compared the relationships between structure and function of the respiratory complex I and III from mitochondria of different species. She characterized the specificity of different quinones and the effect of several inhibitors on complex I and III, revealing that these enzymes share similar quinones binding sites. In this way, she gained expertise on biochemical/kinetical approaches for the study of the respiratory complexes using quinones as substrates. In the early 90s, she started a fruitful collaboration with Dr. Carelli (Dept. of Neurology, Bologna) studying the biochemical effect of mitochondrial mutations associated with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and together they published several papers which shed light on the molecular mechanism of this disease with the aiming of finding new therapy strategies. After, she extended her studies on the field of the mitochondrial inherited neuropathies and in general on the mitochondrial diseases. In the last few years she has focused her studies on understanding the pathophysiology of human mitochondrial complex III with pathogenic cytochrome b mutations. In particular, she has studied in deep the relationships between complex III and the others respiratory chain complexes in their supramolecular organization, showing that organization of complex I and complex III in supercomplexes can be effective in mitigating the detrimental effects induced by pathogenic mutations in cytochrome b. In parallel, she provided her expertise for contributing to study the effect of mitochondrial DNA mutations in oncocytic tumors where disruptive mutations in complex I genes alter oxidative phosphorylation and lead to a cellular metabolic reprograming.

The research activity of Dr. Anna Ghelli is documented by about 77 publications in peer review journals reaching at the end of 2022

4150 citations and an H index of 34 in WoS;

4346 citations and an Hindex of 36 in Scopus;

IF total (IF 2021): 457,529

IF medium (IF 2021): 6,268

The research topics and the relative publications are detailed as follows:

- Study of the functional and structural aspects of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes I and III isolated from different animal species, their interaction with quinones and analogous quinone inhibitors chinoni (Degli Esposti et al., 1989; Degli Esposti et al., 1990; Degli Esposti et al., 1992; Ghelli et al., 1992; Degli Esposti et al.,1993; Degli Esposti et al., 1993; Degli Esposti et al., 1994; Degli Esposti 1994; Degli Esposti and Ghelli, 1994; Andreani et al., 1994; Andreani et al., 1995; Merlo Pich et al., 1996; Degli Esposti 1996; Degli Esposti 1996; Helfenbaum 1997; Ghelli et al., 1997; Baracca et al., 1997; Degli Esposti and Ghelli, 1999; Andreani et al., 1999; Gonzalez-Halphen et al., 2011)

- Studies on the biochemical effects of mutations responsible for Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy in affected patients and mutation-carrying cell models (Degli Esposti et al., 1994; Ghelli et al., 1997; Carelli et al., 1997; Carelli et al., 1999; Ghelli et al., 2003; Zanna et al., 2003; Carelli et al., 2004; Valentino et al., 2004; Zanna et al., 2005: Porcelli et al., 2008; Porcelli et al., 2009; Caporali et al., 2013; Georg et al., 2017; Musiani et al., 2022).

- Studies on the effects of different molecules in order to identify new possible drugs to be used in the clinical treatment of patients suffering of mitochondrial diseases and hereditary optical neuropathies (Ghelli et al., 2008; Giordano et al., 2011; Giorgio et al., 2012; Pisano et al., 2015; Perli et al., 2020; Aleo et al., 2021).

- Biochemical studies on the effects of mutations responsible for Dominant Optical Atrophy and mitochondrial fusion and fission (Zanna et al., 2008; Carelli 2011; Trevisan et al., 2018; Barca et al., 2020).

- Analysis of the influence of mitochondrial genetic background and LHON pathogen mutations in relation to the toxicity of some organic solvents (Ghelli et al., 2009), smoke derivatives (Giordano et al., 2015) and pesticides (Strobbe et al., 2018).

- Genetic-biochemical studies on the role of mitochondria in cancer metabolism (Bonora et al., 2006; Gasparre et al., 2007; Gasparre et al., 2009; Porcelli et al., 2010; Gasparre et al., 2011; Calabrese et al., 2013; Iommarini et al., 2014; Iommarini et al., 2018; Iommarini et al., 2018; Miglietta et al., 2022; Kurelac et al., 2022; De Luise et al., 2022).

- Studies of the biochemical effects of mtdna mutations on cytochrome b of respiratory chain complex III (Ghelli et al., 2013; Lanciano et al., 2013; Carossa et al., 2014; Iommarini et al., 2018; Tropeano et al., 2018; Malferrari et al., 2019; Tropeano et al., 2020; Palenikova et al., 2021; Rugolo et al., 2021).


Progetto Giovani Ricercatori 2000 – University of Bologna “Alterazioni biochimiche in linee cellulari transmitocondriali portatrici delle mutazioni associate alla neuropatia ottica ereditaria di Leber” (7000€.)

Telethon project GGP02323 (2002-2004) – “Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy: systematic investigation of energy depletion and oxidative stress and their relevance to cell death, using cybrid cell lines with 11778, 3460, 14484 and 14459 mutant mitochondria” – as PI of units 1 (50000 €)

Telethon project GGP06233B (2007-2009) - "Pathogenic mechanisms for degeneration of retinal ganglion cells in mitochondrial optic neuropathies" – as PI of units 2 (117000 €)

Progetto Nazionale AIRC (2009-2011) 'TRANSMIT - Translational significance of mitochondrial mutations in tumors.' (400000€) as Co-investigator (PI prof. G.Romeo)

E-Rare "European Research Projects on Rare Diseases" (2009-2012) – 'European Research project on Mendelian Inherited Optic Neuropathies' (35000€) as Co-Investigator (PI- Dr. Marinuzzi)

Telethon project GGP11182 (2011-2013)- 'Systematic gene hunting for nuclear modifiers in Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy and their validation in model systems'.(289000€) as Co-Investigator (PI Dr. Carelli)

NIH project (2011-2012) – “Bacterial cytochrome bc1: structure, function, biogenesis” (50000 US Dollars) as Co-Investigator (PI Prof. Daldal)

UMDF project 12-059 (2012-2014) - "Estrogen mediated regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and functions: possible therapeutic implications for Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy" (103000€)as Co-Investigator (PI Dr. Carla Giordano).



Reviewer for Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, Mitochondrion; Neuroscience Journal, Oxidative Medicine and Cell Longevity, Plos One.