Michele Dibattista

Postdoc at Monell Chemical Senses Center of Philadelphia

Michele Dibattista

In recent years, many steps have been made towards the comprehension of the effects of pheromones on reproductive physiology and behaviour. Those chemical factors trigger different social responses in members of the same species: for this reasons, understanding the exact functions of pheromones can reveal many important aspects of human cognition and behavioural expressions.

This fascinating research field was the reason why Michele Dibattista, young biologist just graduated at the University of Bari, decided to drive through the whole Italy to reach Trieste. In 2005 he got a PhD position under the guide of Anna Menini, a leading expert in the study of the molecular mechanisms of olfactory system.

Here he started an interesting research project to investigate the molecular mechanisms transforming the chemical odorant signal into the electrical messages that are transmitted to the brain. It was used an interdisciplinary approach, combining different tools and techniques such as patch-clamp electrophysiology, calcium imaging, molecular biology.

During his PhD, Michele was therefore able to develop a complete method and good laboratory skills. With this rich background, he flew to Philadelphia, where is currently holding a postdoc position at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

He is here exploring the concept of olfaction in a broader way. In the olfactory system, the sensitivity of olfactory receptor neurons must allow for detection of signals at behaviourally relevant concentrations and the time course of the response must reliably code changes in odour concentration. With his research group, Michele is  focusing on the kinetics of vertebrate olfactory signal transduction and how temporal aspects of the odorant-induced response is controlled at the level of olfactory receptor neurons. He is addressing this question using electrophysiological and immunohistochemical techniques as well as genetically-modified mouse models.

So a promising career and a dynamic research environment. Even if sometimes he misses the “odour” of Trieste and SISSA atmosphere. 


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