About Us

About Us

Giovanni Ferrara

Giovanni Ferrara

Scientific Director - IRCCS San Martino Hospital, Genoa (Italy)
Giovanni Ferrara is a senior postdoc at the Experimental Neuroscience Lab, IRCCS San Martino Hospital, Italy. He obtained his master’s degree in Pathophysiology and later his PhD in Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology at University of Parma, Italy in 2012. From 2007, his main field of investigation is neuroscience, focusing on neuroimmunology and neuroinflammation. Particularly he is characterizing the role of a membrane-spanning proteoglycan, nerve-glial antigen 2 (NG2) in neuroinflammation and the role of tolerogenic dendritic cells in MS. He also studies the immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells and their possible role as treatment of neurological diseases.

Scientific Secretariat

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), Madrid, Spain

I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Biotechnology at the Universidad Autonoma of Madrid, Spain. Then I moved to Genoa to work as an external researcher at the laboratory of neuroimmunobiology, department of neuroscience, University of Genova. The aim of my project was to investigate possible changes in neuroglia activation states through pharmaceutical modulation with Fingolimod -a novel oral treatment approved for the treatment of relapsing-remmiting form of multiple sclerosis- and to understand if this modulation could lead to a potential amelioration of neuroinflammation, ultimately reducting neurodegeneration in the mice model of Multiple Sclerosis experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Straightforward I achieved a PhD position at the Pharmacology and Physiology Department of the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid. The main goal of the project is to develop a protocol to efficiently deliver fluorescence nanoparticles to the brain, and to understand if this could be an effective tool able to monitor subtle temperatures changes in the context of central nervous system diseases such as Alzeimer and glioblastoma. These could ultimately lead to a novel brain diagnostic technique that could allow to improve detection times in early stages of these conditions.

Valentina Petrosino

University of Genoa (Italy)

I’m Valentina Petrosino, I graduated in Medical Biotechnology at “Federico II” University of Naples. In 2012 I obtained the Specialization in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Pisa and in 2019 I concluded my phD in Neuroscience in the Neuroimmunobiology lab of University of Genoa.
My field of research is focused on Neurosciences, in particular to epigenetics and molecular biology, for studying new possible therapeutic targets towards neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis. I work on a project focused on the role of the transcriptional factor, REST, in EAE mouse model. REST acts through epigenetic modifications for mediating a cell specific gene repression during neuronal development, and its dysregulation and the impact on its targets, have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. Aim of the project is to study REST involvement in the pathological process of EAE and potentially to find drugs acting as REST modulators to be translated in human patients.

Margherita Romeo

Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Diagnostic Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University and the IUF- Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf, Germany

Graduated in July 2011 in Biomolecular Chemistry at the University of Catania (Italy). In 2014 she was awarded with the title of Biomedical Research Specialist at the IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy. She used the nematode Caenorabditis elegansas innovativeanimal model to investigate the molecular mechanism involved in central or systemic amyloidosis. Actually,she is a Phd student at the IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri. She is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying the ability of C.elegans’pharynx to recognize as toxicant cardiotoxic light chains that cause heart damage in patients suffering of immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis. In particular,she is investigating the key role of metal ions, particularly copper,in driving the ROS-mediated proteotoxic effects of light chains.

Maria Chiara Trolese

Mario Negri Institute, Milan (Italy)

Dr. M. Chiara Trolese achieved the Bachelor Degree in 2009 and the Master Degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in 2013 at the “Università degli Studi di Milano” (Italy). After the graduation, she earns a three-years fellowship at “Mario Negri” Institute for Pharmacological Research where, under the guidance of Dr C. Bendotti and Dr. G. Nardo, she was involved in the characterization of ALS pathogenesis in transgenic mouse models with the aim to identify novel disease biomarkers. During these period years, she focussed on the role of the MHCI adaptive pathwayin the disease progression of ALS mice. Dr. M. Chiara Trolese started the Ph.D. course in Bendotti’s Lab in 2016. Actually, her work is devoted to the analysis of the effect of the immune response modulation in ALS progression.

Scientific Committee

Stefano Angiari

Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland)

I obtained a master’s degree in Molecular Biology and a Phd in Cellular and Molecular Pathology and Biology. In 10 years of research activity at the University of Verona (Italy) I investigated the molecular mechanisms controlling leukocyte trafficking in the central nervous system during neuroinflammatory diseases such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, epilepsy and Alzheimer disease.
I also studied the immuno-modulatory properties of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) and ASC-derived nanovescicles in neurological diseases. I recently moved to the Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) to develop a research project investigating the metabolic regulation of adaptive immune responses.

Barbara Bettegazzi

San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan (Italy)

Barbara Bettegazzi, 35 years old, married. I am currently working as a post doctoral researcher in Professor Grohovaz’s laboratory at San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, where I obtained my PhD in Molecular Medicine in 2012. During my PhD I worked mainly on Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, studying the mechanisms regulating the expression and activity of BACE1, the main β-secretase of the brain. During my PhD I spent two years in Munich, in the laboratory of C. Haass, a pioneer in the Alzheimer’s disease field and our collaboration is still ongoing. More recently I shifted my research focus on studying whether alterations in the control of protein synthesis could contribute to the development of complex diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

Neuroscience Institute «Cavalieri Ottolenghi», Dept. of Neuroscience, University of Turin (Italy)

Enrica Boda, 39 years old. Enrica is a neurobiologist sand has just got a position as Assistant Professor in tenure track (RTD-B) in Human Anatomy at the University of Turin. She’s now working in the research group of  “Physiopathology of neural stem cells” at the Neuroscience Institute of the Cavalieri Ottolenghi Foundation (NICO, Orbassano, Turin). Her studies are focused on the molecular mechanisms regulating the self-renewal and differentiation of neural progenitor cells (oligodendrocyte progenitors andneural stem cells) in health and disease, with a special focus on de-/dis-myelinating diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Giovanna Calabrese

University of Messina (Italy)

I’m Giovanna Calabrese, I have a PhD in Medical Embryology, Pathology and Experimental Hematology. Currently, I’m a post-doc at the University of Messina Department of Chemical, Biological, Pharmaceutical and Environmental Sciences. My main research topic is regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applied to both neural and osteo/chondral regeneration. Specifically, I’m studying the repairing capabilities of the combination between mesenchymal stem cells and 3D biomimetic materials, both in vitro and in animal models.

Giuseppina D'Alessandro

«Sapienza» University of Rome (Italy)

Giuseppina D’Alessandro graduated in December 2004 in Industrial Biotechnology at “Federico II” University of Naples. In 2008 she took a Specialization in Pharmacological Research at “Mario Negri” Institute in Milan focusing her attention on ALS. In 2012 she took a PhD in Neurophysiology at “Sapienza” University of Rome studying Glioblastoma biology and its effect on tumor brain microenvironment. In 2011 and 2015 she was research collaborator at Institute of Neurosciences for Hospitalization and Scientific Research (Neuromed) in Pozzilli (Isernia). From 2015 to present she strongly collaborated to 3-year AIRC founded project as post-doc coordinated by Professor Cristina Limatola.

Manuela Medellin

SISSA, University of Trieste (Italy)

I was born on 9th of June 1985 in Trieste. Following my Master degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technologies in April 2010, I continued my experimental training in Pharmacology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt for few months. Afterwards, I decided to explore a different scientific field and started my PhD in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences –specializing in Neurobiology, back again at the University of Trieste. In 2014 I continued my research activities in SISSA as a Postdoctoral Fellow mainly focusing on characterizing neuronal networks in both physiological and pathological conditions and how these are affected when interfaced with nanotechnologies.

Alessandra Musella

IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Rome (Italy)

I’m a senior researcher, working in Università Telematica San Raffaele, Rome, Italy. I graduated in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technologyat “Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy (2006).
Immediately after graduation, I started working as electrophysiologist in Prof. D Centonze’s laboratory at “Tor Vergata” University and at IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia. In 2012, I received my PhD degree in neuroscience and, in 2014, I obtained a 3-year-grant form Italian Ministry of Health. My research interests are related to the role of synaptic transmission in the pathophysiology of Multiple Sclerosis and of its experimental model, and to the mechanisms of the neurodegenerative damage in neurological diseases. On these topics, I have published about 53 original peer-reviewed papers.

Mario Negri Institute, Milan (Italy)

Dr. Giovanni Nardo, obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Parma (Italy). During this period, he focused on the molecular diagnostics of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Subsequently, he moved in the United Kingdom as a postdoc at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITRAN) where he was involved in the characterization of ALS pathogenesis in transgenic mouse models. After two years, he became principal investigator at the Mario Negri Institute in Milan by obtaining a two years grant from the Thierry Latran Foundation.
Now he’s working as a senior researcher at the Mario Negri Institute where he investigates the correlation between the inflammation and ALS.

Ilaria Prada

Italian National Research Council, Milan (Italy)

I was born 37 years ago in Milan. I graduated in Pharmacological Biotechnologies from the University of Milan and in 2011 I received the PhD in Molecular Medicine-Neuroscience at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan. I initially studied intracellular vesicle expression and trafficking in neuroendocrine cells and in astrocytes. I therefore specialised in advanced microscopy techniques at the University of Lausanne and at SISSA in Trieste. Nowadays, I continuemy research activitiesat IN-CNR as a Postdoctoral Fellow, investigating how glial extracellular-vesicles can affect neuronal function in health and disease, with a special focus on neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation.

Rosa Paolicelli

Department of Physiology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Rosa C. Paolicelli earned her bachelor of Medical Biotechnology at the University of Bologna, Italy, in 2006, and her MSc in Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Bristol, UK, in 2007. She graduated in 2011 with a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology, from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and then worked as postdoc at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, in the Department of Systems and Cell Biology of Neurodegeneration. From 2018, Rosa is Assistant Professor at the Department of Physiology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Her lab focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating microglia-synapse interaction in physiological and pathological contexts.

Matteo Tamborini

Italian National Research Council, Milan (Italy), Humanitas Research Hospital, Rozzano (Italy)

Matteo Tamborini obtained master degree in Molecular Biology and Phd in Pharmacology at the Univeristy of Milan. At the beginning he studied DNA damage induced by radiations at the nervous system level. During his Phd Matteo approached to the nanotechnology field applied to the Glioblastoma context investigatingon the potential therapeutic of nanovectors combined with radiotherapy. Nowadays he studying the role of radiotherapy in modulating the communication among glioblastoma cancer stem cells and nervous system cells in terms of cancer survival and invasion.

Elisabetta Volpe

The BraYniacs

Stefano Amoretti

Stefano Amoretti is 23 years old Master student in Neuroscience at University of Pisa and the Social manager of BraYn. He pursued a Biology degree at University of L’Aquila with a research experience focused on the role of white matter in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease, in which he set up a protocol in order to study and compare the degeneration of white and grey matter in a rat model. In few months, he’s going to start his internship thesis at CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) in the field of Neuroinflammation and Neurodegeneration in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. He hopes to be active in the scientific community and pursue his interest in neurodegeneration doing a PhD.

University of Genoa(Italy)
IRCCS G. Gaslini Institute, Genoa (Italy)

Ganna Balagura graduated in Medicine and Surgery at Università degli Studi di Genova (2016) and she is in her last year of PhD in Pediatric Neurology at “G. Gaslini” Institute in Genova. The focus of her research are genetic epilepsies and neurodevelopmental disorders, i.e. synaptopathies. Her work spans from clinical phenotyping of the patients with genetic epilepsies and bioinformatic tools for deep phenotyping (Human Phenotype Ontology), to experimental studies around the pathomechanisms of these genetic disorders, to precision medicine approaches. Ganna is now based in Amsterdam, at Matthijs Verhage’s Lab (Functional Genomics department,  Vrije Universiteit). Her current project consists into investigating a novel therapeutic tool based on non-coding RNAs for the treatment of developmental and epileptic encephalopathies caused by gene haploinsufficiency. She is testing these new compounds on human neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells.

Giulia D'Arrigo

Giulia D’Arrigo is a 28 years old PhD student graduated in Neurobiology at the University of Pavia in 2015. She is now attending the last year of the PhD program in Functional and Structural Genomics at the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste (SISSA) and in collaboration with the CNR Institute of Neuroscience in Milan. During her master internship in neurobiology, she collaborated to demonstrate the transfer of miRNAs from glial inflammatory extracellular vesicles (EVs) to neurons. She has also participated to characterize human monocyte-derived microvesicles and to investigate the ability of synthetic neuromelanins to activate microglia in vitro. Currently, her PhD project concerns the study of the dynamics of EV-neuron interaction exploiting optical manipulation, a technique that allows to trap and deliver single particles in a suspension of cultured cells in vitro. The final goal of her work is to comprehend the mechanisms by which EVs can spread misfolding proteins and propagate neurodegeneration among neurons in the brain.

Mattia Di Paolo
placido illiano-q

University of Miami

Placido Illiano is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, in the Brambilla laboratory. His current research focuses on the study of cognitive functions and remyelination in preclinical models of Multiple Sclerosis. In particular, he studies the protective function of glial TNF receptor type 2 in cognition and remyelination during neuroinflammation.
Previously, Placido worked as a postdoctoral fellow investigating forensic neuroscience of addiction at the University of Miami, Brain Endowment Bank. He obtained his doctoral degree at the “Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia” jointly with the University of Genoa, working on preclinical models of altered dopamine neurotransmission. He graduated in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology at the University of Naples Federico II.
Pellegrino Lippiello

University of Naples Federico II; Dept. of Pharmacy

Pellegrino Lippiello graduated in Biotechnology at the University of Naples Federico II and during his PhD in Neuroscience, he started the electrophysiological studies. Since 2012, he joined Dr. Maria Miniaci lab at University of Naples Federico II; Dept. of Pharmacy, where he started to on work the Cerebellar plasticity on slices. In the last years, he is starting to work on Alzheimer Disease (AD) using the Tg-CRND8 mice, a mouse model of AD. He is also investigating the physiological role of G protein-coupled inwardly-rectifying potassium channel (GIRK) on cerebellar plasticity.

Samuele Negro

University of Padova

Samuele Negro is a 31 years old postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Padova. He obtained his master degree in Sanitary Biology and PhD in Neurobiology at the University of Padova. His research aims to provide a deeper understanding of the complex array of intercellular and intracellular signalings that govern the process of peripheral nerve degeneration and regeneration: in particular, his work is focused on the pivotal role played by Schwann cells in the regenerative process. Thanks to a short term EMBO fellowship, in 2018, he also spent 3 months at the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders (UCL-Institute of Neurology, London)

Simona Paglia

University of Bologna (Italy)

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in “Molecular Biology” at the University of Molise, then I moved to Bologna where I attended the Master course in “Health Biology”. During my internship and as graduate fellow, I started working on a neurogenic model of brain cancer in Drosophila. Currently, as a PhD Fellow of the PhD Programme in “Cellular and Molecular Biology” at University of Bologna, I am focusing on the molecular signature of an adult brain malignancy originated from a specific population of neural stem cells.

Elisabetta Stanzani
Eleonora Vannini

Neuroscience Institute – National Research Council of Italy, Pisa (Italy)

I obtained the PhD in Neurobiology at Scuola Normale Superiore in November 2014 with a thesis on the antineoplastic effects of a bacterial protein as a potential therapy in the treatment of brain tumors. After PhD I worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Leicester, UK (Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavior) and at Humanitas University, Milan (Pharmacology and Brain Pathology lab). In my academic career I have always focused my studies on studying plastic rearrangements in diseases such as brain tumors and epilepsy. In these years I was awarded with Premio Aldo Fasolo (Università di Torino), Early Career Researcher Prize (University of Leicester), two Fondazione Veronesi Fellowships (in 2016 and in 2019) and  Falling Walls Lab Florence 2018 ( Università di Firenze). I am currently working at the CNR Institute of Neuroscience in Pisa and I am author of 13 scientific publications, 6 as a first author.

Maria Velasco

María obtained her BSc in Biochemistry from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain) and her MSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Brighton (United Kingdom). Because of her passion for research, she started her PhD studies in the lab of Prof. Dev in Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) in 2015, where she investigated the role of mechanoreceptor Piezo1 in the Central Nervous System during neuroinflammation and in demyelinating disorders. She is currently a postdoct in Dr. Rutkowska’s lab at the Gdanski Uniwersitet Medyczny in Gdansk (Poland). Her research interest focuses in the biomechanics of the brain and the role of mechanoreceptors in the central nervous system in health and disease.

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