|Specialization in Pharmacology, Associate Professor of Biochemistry (teacher of Neurobiochemistry) and head of the Lab. of Neuroscience “Rita Levi-Montalcini”, Dept of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University Milano-Bicocca. Member of the PhD program in Neuroscience (School of Medicine, University Milano-Bicocca).
- Since 1991 (1991-1999 at the Dept of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA) research focused on the neurobiology of neurotrophic factors in brain function and regeneration, in particular Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and its therapeutic potential in neurodegenerative diseases. Studies contributed to current knowledge of NGF activity in neuronal survival/differentiation, and the transcriptional mechanisms underlying spatiotemporal and cell-specific pharmacological regulation of endogenous NGF expression in the brain. In addition to animal studies showing developmental and pharmacological regulation of NGF levels by glucocorticoids and β-adrenergic receptor (BAR) agonists, studies of the NGF promoter contributed to current knowledge of the cis-regulatory elements in the proximal promoter region responsible for basal and regulated expression of NGF levels in a brain region-specific and cell-specific manner. Part of these studies were developed during a 1-year Sabbatical leave (1996-1997) at the Eukaryotic Transcriptional Regulation Group, National Cancer Institute-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Frederick MD, USA.
- Back in Italy in 2000, research activities focused on the biotechnological development of NGF for clinical applications in neurodegenerative disorders. These studies led to the development of a procedure for the production of a high amount of recombinant human NGF (rhNGF) with in-vitro and in-vivo biological activity comparable to the native 2.5S mNGF. In addition, modeling studies led to the development and synthesis of NGF-like molecules, sequence/structural analogs with TrkA-agonist activity both in-vitro and in animal models of peripheral nerve injury (chronic constriction injury and spared nerve injury). These studies also indicate a novel anti-gliosis role of NGF and the NGF-like molecule BB14 by modulating reactive gliosis and synaptic homeostasis (glutamatergic and GABAergic components in the spinal cord).
- Current research interests include i) mechanisms of neuronal differentiation; ii) mitochondrial dynamics and metabolism; iii) mechanisms of neurodegeneration linked to mitochondrial dysfunction and neuroinflammation/reactive gliosis, also by a Systems Biology approach (computer modeling and simulations/validation); iv) neuroprotection by NGF and antioxidant molecules; v) impact of micro- and nano-plastics on brain toxicity and function.