Paolo Bonifazi

Senior Postdoc at Tel Aviv University

Paolo Bonifazi at Tel Aviv University

During his research career, Paolo Bonifazi travelled a lot.  After de degree in Physics at Perugia University he went to Germany, where he was trainee at the Department of Membrane and Neurophysics of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. It was the opportunity to unify his former studies and his new-born interest for neuroscience, focusing on the neuroelectronic interfaces for brain activity analysis.

In 2002, Paolo attained a PhD position at SISSA, in the laboratory of prof Vincent Torre. Here he started a research project on Systems Neuroscience, with the aim to understand how the nervous system transforms sensory inputs into appropriate motor reactions.

In particular, he studied information processing in dissociated neuronal cultures of rat hippocampal neurons. These cultures, with random connections, provide a more general view of neuronal networks and assemblies, not depending on the circuitry of a neuronal network in vivo, and allow a more detailed and careful experimental investigation. In this way it was possible to study information processing both at the single neuron level and at the ensemble level. Aiming at the same time to explore the possibility of using biological neurons as computing elements in a task commonly solved by conventional silicon devices: image processing and pattern recognition.

This experience opened for Paolo the challenging field of human-computer interface. He got his PhD and he spent one year as a Postdoc at the University of Cambridge, working in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.

He then flew to France, and worked at the Parc Scientifique de Luminy of Marseille. Here he extended his studies to hippocampal and cortical circuits in vitro and in vivo, where the intact architectures of the networks are preserved.

After a couple of years he travelled again and longer, to reach his currently position: the School of Physics and Astronomy in Tel Aviv University, where he is Senior Postdoc. Working in the group of the physics Eshel Ben-Jacob, Paolo is focusing on one of the main challenges of modern neuroscience: linking structure and dynamics of neuronal circuit. Using a multi-disciplinary approach combining calcium imaging, multi-electrode recordings, optogenetics, immunohistochemistry, graph theory and complex system, the team aims at characterizing neural circuits of different complexity in different patho-physiological conditions.

In Tel Aviv Paolo is experiencing a vibrant and dynamic city besides a stimulating working environment. Waiting to know where the next travel will lead him.


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