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Whatever question you want to ask the brain, here you will find the language and the tools to carry out your experiment, the right advisors to supervise your research, and the ideal working environment to start a brilliant and satisfying career in Neuroscience. All research and teaching take place in ENGLISH. There are NO TUITION FEES, and each PhD student receives a FELLOWSHIP FOR 3-4 YEARS.



Anna Menini

Anna Menini

Olfactory systemCourse Coordinator- Full Professor

Laura Ballerini

Laura Ballerini

Neurons and nanomaterialsFull Professor

Vincent Torre

Vincent Torre

BionanotechnologiesFull Professor

Giuliano Taccola

Giuliano Taccola

Spinal cord neurophysiologyResearcher

Paul Heppenstall

Paul Heppenstall

Physiology of somatosensationFull Professor

Michele Giugliano

Michele Giugliano

From neurons to networksResearcher

Associated members

Loredana Casalis

Loredana Casalis

AFM litographyScientist at Elettra Sincrotrone

Dan Cojoc

Dan Cojoc

Optical manipulation and imagingSenior Scientist at IOM-CNR

Latest Publications

Cerebral Cortex, in press

Single-cell and neuronal network alterations in an in vitro model of Fragile X syndrome

 A. Moskalyuk, S. Van De Vijver, P. Verstraelen, W.H. De Dos, R.F. Kooy, and M. Giugliano.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2019 Mar 1;60(4):933-943. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-25347.

Electrophysiological Changes During Early Steps of Retinitis Pigmentosa

Bocchero U, Tam BM, Chiu CN, Torre V, Moritz OL.


Experimental Cell Research. 2019,381: 121-128.

A "noisy" electrical stimulation protocol favors muscle regeneration in vitro through release of endogenous ATP

Bosutti A, Bernareggi A, Massaria G, D'Andrea P, Taccola G; Lorenzon P, Sciancalepore M.

Nano Lett. 2019 May 8;19(5):2858-2870. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b04903. Epub 2019 Apr 18. PubMed PMID: 30983361.

Graphene Oxide Flakes Tune Excitatory Neurotransmission in Vivo by Targeting Hippocampal Synapses

Rauti R, Medelin M, Newman L, Vranic S, Reina G, Bianco A, Prato M, Kostarelos K, Ballerini L.

Front Syst Neurosci. 2019 Jan 24;13:1. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2019.00001. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID:30733671; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6354065.

3D Organotypic Spinal Cultures: Exploring Neuron and Neuroglia Responses Upon Prolonged Exposure to Graphene Oxide

Musto M, Rauti R, Rodrigues AF, Bonechi E, Ballerini C, Kostarelos K, Ballerini L.

2019, Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 18;58(8):2341-2344. doi: 10.1002/anie.201812967.

A Chemogenetic Approach for the Optical Monitoring of Voltage in Neurons

Sundukova M, Prifti E, Bucci A, Kirillova K, Serrao J, Reymond L, Umebayashi M, Hovius R, Riezman H, Johnsson K, Heppenstall PA.  

2019, Nat Biomed Eng. 3(2):114-125. doi: 10.1038/s41551-018-0328-5.

Interleukin-31-mediated photoablation of pruritogenic epidermal neurons reduces itch-associated behaviours in mice

Nocchi L, Roy N, D'Attilia M, Dhandapani R, Maffei M, Traista A, Castaldi L, Perlas E, Chadick CH, Heppenstall PA. 

J Gen Physiol. 2019 May 2. pii: jgp.201812310. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201812310. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 31048412

TMEM16A calcium-activated chloride currents in supporting cells of the mouse olfactory epithelium

Henriques T, Agostinelli E, Hernandez-Clavijo A, Maurya DK, Rock JR, Harfe BD, Menini A, Pifferi S.

Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 20;9(1):8834. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45456-w. PMID: 31222082

Bitter tastants and artificial sweeteners activate a subset of epithelial cells in acute tissue slices of the rat trachea

Lasconi CPifferi SHernandez-Clavijo AMerigo FCecchini MPGonzalez-Velandia KYAgostinelli ESbarbati AMenini A.

Front Neurosci. 2019 Jan 15;12:953. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00953. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 30697140; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6341218.

Advances in Nano Neuroscience: From Nanomaterials to Nanotools

Pampaloni NP, Giugliano M, Scaini D, Ballerini L, Rauti R.

Adv Mater. 2018 Dec;30(52):e1806132. doi: 10.1002/adma.201806132. Epub 2018 Nov 2.

A Fully 3D Interconnected Graphene-Carbon Nanotube Web Allows the Study of Glioma Infiltration in Bioengineered 3D Cortex-Like Networks

Xiao M, Li X, Song Q, Zhang Q, Lazzarino M, Cheng G, Ulloa Severino FP, Torre V.


PLoS Comput Biol. 2018 Aug 2;14(8):e1006295. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006295. eCollection 2018 Aug.

The permeation mechanism of organic cations through a CNG mimic channel

Napolitano LMR, Marchesi A, Rodriguez A, De March M, Onesti S, Laio A, Torre V.


(2018) Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 12, art. no. 130. DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00130

Cell mechanotransduction with piconewton forces applied by optical tweezers

Falleroni, F., Torre, V., Cojoc, D.

(2018) Applied Optics, 57 (1), A242. DOI: 10.1364/AO.57.00A242

Single-shot, dual-mode, water-immersion microscopy platform for biological applications

Picazo-Bueno, J.Á., Cojoc, D., Iseppon, F., Torre, V., Micó, V.

J Neurosci Res. 2018; 96:889-900.

Histamine modulates spinal motoneurons and locomotor circuits

Coslovich T, Brumley MR, D’Angelo G, Della Mora A, Swann HE, Ortolani F, and Taccola G.

Prog Neurobiol.2018; 160:64-81.

And yet it moves: recovery of volitional control after spinal cord injury

Taccola G, Gerasimenko Y, Gad P, Sayenko D, and Edgerton VR.

2018, Nat Commun. 24;9(1):1640. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04049-3.

Control of mechanical pain hypersensitivity in mice through ligand-targeted photoablation of TrkB-positive sensory neurons

Dhandapani R, Arokiaraj CM, Taberner FJ, Pacifico P, Raja S, Nocchi L, Portulano C, Franciosa F, Maffei M, Hussain AF, de Castro Reis F, Reymond L, Perlas E, Garcovich S, Barth S, Johnsson K, Lechner SG, Heppenstall PA.  

eNeuro. 2018 Aug 13;5(4). pii: ENEURO.0223-18.2018. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0223-18.2018. eCollection 2018 Jul-Aug.

Sensory Adaptation to Chemical Cues by Vomeronasal Sensory Neurons

Wong WM, Nagel M, Hernandez-Clavijo A, Pifferi S, Menini A, Spehr M, Meeks JP.

Mol Brain. 2018 Jan 15;11(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s13041-018-0347-x. PubMed PMID: 29334986; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5769440.

Bridging pro-inflammatory signals, synaptic transmission and protection in spinal explants in vitro

Medelin M, Giacco V, Aldinucci A, Castronovo G, Bonechi E, Sibilla A, Tanturli M, Torcia M, Ballerini L, Cozzolino F, Ballerini C. 

Acta Biomater. 2018 Jun;73:285-301. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.03.041. Epub 2018 Apr 3. PubMed PMID: 29621637.

Exploiting natural polysaccharides to enhance in vitro bio-constructs of primary neurons and progenitor cells

Medelin M, Porrelli D, Aurand ER, Scaini D, Travan A, Borgogna MA, Cok M, Donati I, Marsich E, Scopa C, Scardigli R, Paoletti S, Ballerini L. 

Small. 2018 Jul;14(28):e1800863. doi: 10.1002/smll.201800863. Epub 2018 Jun 3. PubMed PMID: 29862640.

Attenuated Glial Reactivity on Topographically Functionalized Poly(3,4-Ethylenedioxythiophene):P-Toluene Sulfonate (PEDOT:PTS) Neuroelectrodes Fabricated by Microimprint Lithography

Vallejo-Giraldo C, Krukiewicz K, Calaresu I, Zhu J, Palma M, Fernandez-Yague M, McDowell B, Peixoto N, Farid N, O'Connor G, Ballerini L, Pandit A, Biggs MJP.

Nat Nanotechnol. 2018 Aug;13(8):755-764. doi:10.1038/s41565-018-0163-6. Epub 2018 Jun 11. PubMed PMID: 29892019.

Single-layer graphene modulates neuronal communication and augments membrane ion currents

Pampaloni NP, Lottner M, Giugliano M, Matruglio A, D'Amico F, Prato M, Garrido JA, Ballerini L, Scaini D.

Neuroethics. 2018;11(3):309-322. doi: 10.1007/s12152-018-9366-7. Epub 2018 May 1. PMID:30220937

Bottom Up Ethics - Neuroenhancement in Education and Employment

Bard I, Gaskell G, Allansdottir A, da Cunha RV, Eduard P, Hampel J, Hildt E, Hofmaier C, Kronberger N, Laursen S, Meijknecht A, Nordal S, Quintanilha A, Revuelta G, Saladié N, Sándor J, Santos JB, Seyringer S, Singh I, Somsen H, Toonders W, Torgersen H, Torre V, Varju M, Zwart H.


ACS Nano. 2018 Nov 27;12(11):10582-10620. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b04758. Epub 2018 Nov 12. PubMed PMID: 30387986.

Safety Assessment of Graphene-Based Materials: Focus on Human Health and the Environment

Fadeel B, Bussy C, Merino S, Vázquez E, Flahaut E, Mouchet F, Evariste L, Gauthier L, Koivisto AJ, Vogel U, Martín C, Delogu LG, Buerki-Thurnherr T, Wick P, Beloin-Saint-Pierre D, Hischier R, Pelin M, Candotto Carniel F, Tretiach M, Cesca F, Benfenati F, Scaini D, Ballerini L, Kostarelos K, Prato M, Bianco A.

Adv. Funct. Mater. 2017, 1700550 First published: 5 May 2017 DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201700550

Nanostructures to Engineer 3D Neural-Interfaces: Directing Axonal Navigation toward Successful Bridging of Spinal Segments

Aurand ER, Usmani S, Medelin M, Scaini D, Bosi S, Rosselli FB, Donato S, Tromba G, Prato M and Ballerini L.

J. Biomed. Nanotechnol. 2017, Vol. 13, No. 5 1550-7033/2017/13/559/007 doi:10.1166/jbn.2017.2364

Successful Regrowth of Retinal Neurons When Cultured Interfaced to Carbon Nanotube Platforms

Cellot G, La Monica S, Scaini D, Rauti R, Bosi S, Prato M, Gandolfi S and Ballerini L.

Science, 9 JUNE 2017 • VOL 356 ISSUE 6342 pp 1010-1011 (Perspectives on Biomaterials) 10.1126/science.aan1227

Nanomaterials for stimulating nerve growth

Marchesan S, Ballerini L, Prato M.

Channels (Austin). 2017 Sep 3;11(5):399-414. doi: 10.1080/19336950.2017.1307489. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

The long tale of the calcium activated Cl- channels in olfactory transduction

Dibattista M, Pifferi S, Boccaccio A, Menini A, Reisert J.

Front Cell Neurosci. 2017 Dec 18;11:402. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2017.00402. eCollection 2017

Actin Waves Do Not Boost Neurite Outgrowth in the Early Stages of Neuron Maturation

Mortal S, Iseppon F, Perissinotto A, D'Este E, Cojoc D, Napolitano LMR, Torre V.

Nat Biotechnol. 2017 Nov 9;35(11):1021-1023. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3958

Public views on gene editing and its uses

Gaskell G, Bard I, Allansdottir A, da Cunha RV, Eduard P, Hampel J, Hildt E, Hofmaier C, Kronberger N, Laursen S, Meijknecht A, Nordal S, Quintanilha A, Revuelta G, Saladié N, Sándor J, Santos JB, Seyringer S, Singh I, Somsen H, Toonders W, Torgersen H, Torre V, Varju M, Zwart H.

(2017) J Biol Methods;4(1):e65. DOI: 10.14440/jbm.2017.159

Combining FRET and optical tweezers to study RhoGTPases spatio-temporal dynamics upon local stimulation

Iseppon, F., Napolitano, LM., Torre, V., Cojoc, D. 

Invited review to Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2017, 23: 1764-1777.

Multilevel analysis of locomotion in immature preparations suggests innovative strategies to reactivate stepping after spinal cord injury

Brumley MR, Guertin PA, Taccola G. 

Cell Rep 21(11):3102-3115. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.11.066

Functional and Molecular Characterization of Mechanoinsensitive "Silent" Nociceptors

Prato V, Taberner FJ, Hockley JRF, Callejo G, Arcourt A, Tazir B, Hammer L, Schad P, Heppenstall PA, Smith ES, Lechner SG. 


Nat Commun 8(1):1778. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01841-5

Exosomal cargo including microRNA regulates sensory neuron to macrophage communication after nerve trauma

Simeoli R, Montague K, Jones HR, Castaldi L, Chambers D, Kelleher JH, Vacca V, Pitcher T, Grist J, Al-Ahdal H, Wong LF, Perretti M, Lai J, Mouritzen P, Heppenstall P, Malcangio M. 


Sci Rep 7(1) doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-04452-8

ATP release during cell swelling activates a Ca(2+)-dependent Cl(-) current by autocrine mechanism in mouse hippocampal microglia

Murana E, Pagani F, Basilico B, Sundukova M, Batti L, Di Angelantonio S, Cortese B, Grimaldi A, Francioso A, Heppenstall P, Bregestovski P, Limatola C, Ragozzino D.


Neuron 93(1):179-193. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.11.027

Touch Receptor-Derived Sensory Information Alleviates Acute Pain Signaling and Fine-Tunes Nociceptive Reflex Coordination

Arcourt A, Gorham L, Dhandapani R, Prato V, Taberner FJ, Wende H, Gangadharan V, Birchmeier C, Heppenstall PA, Lechner SG. 

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2018 Jun;50:50-55. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2017.12.009. Epub 2017 Dec 28. Review. PubMed PMID: 29289930.

Nanomaterials at the neural interface

Scaini D, Ballerini L.  

J Gen Physiol. 2016 Oct;148(4):293-311. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201611622.

The Ca2+-activated Cl- channel TMEM16B regulates action potential firing and axonal targeting in olfactory sensory neurons

Pietra G, Dibattista M, Menini A, Reisert J, Boccaccio A.

Science Advances 15 Jul 2016: Vol. 2, no. 7, e1600087 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600087

3D meshes of carbon nanotubes guide functional reconnection of segregated spinal explants

Usmani S, Aurand ER, Medelin M, Fabbro A, Scaini D, Laishram J, Rosselli FB, Ansuini A, Zoccolan D, Scarselli M, De Crescenzi M, Bosi S, Prato M and Ballerini L.

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 29640 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep29640

The role of dimensionality in neuronal network dynamics

Ulloa Severino FP, Ban J, Song Q, Tang M, Bianconi G, Cheng G, Torre V.

Experimental Neurology. 2016, 286:1-11.

A new model of nerve injury in the rat reveals a role of regulator of G protein signaling 4 in tactile hypersensitivity

Taccola G, Doyen PJ, Damblon J, Dingu N, Ballarin B, Steyaert A, des Rieux A, Forget P, Hermans E, Bosier B, Deumens R.  

Experimental Neurology. 2016, 285:182-189.

Neuromodulation of the neural circuits controlling the lower urinary tract

Gad P, Roy R, Zhong H, Gerasimenko Y, Taccola G, Edgerton VR.  

Spinal Cord. Spinal Cord. 2016, 54:93-101.

Staggered multi-site low-frequency electrostimulation effectively induces locomotor patterns in the isolated rat spinal cord

Dose F, Deumens R, Forget P, Taccola G.

Neuromodulation. 2016, 19:38-46.

Electrical stimulation able to trigger locomotor spinal circuits also induces dorsal horn activity

Dingu N, Deumens R, Taccola G. 

ELIFE 5 doi: 10.7554/eLife.20813

Acetylated tubulin is essential for touch sensation in mice

Morley SJ, Qi YM, Iovino L, Andolfi L, Guo D, Kalebic N, Castaldi L, Tischer C, Portulano C, Bolasco G, Shirlekar K, Fusco CM, Asaro A, Fermani F, Sundukova M, Matti U, Reymond L, De Ninno A, Businaro L, Johnsson K, Lazzarino M, Ries J, Schwab Y, Hu J, Heppenstall PA.

Science 353(6306):1393-1398. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf7537

The TRPM2 channel is a hypothalamic heat sensor that limits fever and can drive hypothermia

Song K, Wang H, Kamm GB, Pohle J, Reis FD, Heppenstall P, Wende H, Siemens J.

J Neurosci. 2015 Jan 7;35(1):146-60. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0613-14.2015

Circuit formation and function in the olfactory bulb of mice with reduced spontaneous afferent activity

Lorenzon P, Redolfi N, Podolsky MJ, Zamparo I, Franchi SA, Pietra G, Boccaccio A, Menini A, Murthy VN, Lodovichi C.

Biochim Biophys Acta 1848(4):1005-13.

Multiple effects of anthracene-9-carboxylic acid on the TMEM16B/anoctamin2 calcium-activated chloride channel

Cherian OL, Menini A, Boccaccio A.

Nat Commun. 2015 May 12;6:7093. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8093

Conformational rearrangements in the transmembrane domain of CNGA1 channels revealed by single-molecule force spectroscopy

Maity S, Mazzolini M, Arcangeletti M, Valbuena A, Fabris P, Lazzarino M, Torre V.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 May 4. pii: 201423162. [Epub ahead of print]

The phototransduction machinery in the rod outer segment has a strong efficacy gradient

Mazzolini M, Facchetti G, Andolfi L, Proietti Zaccaria R, Tuccio S, Treu J, Altafini C, Di Fabrizio EM, Lazzarino M, Rapp G, Torre V.

Sci Rep. 2015 Apr 24;5:9562. doi: 10.1038/srep09562

From 2D to 3D: novel nanostructured scaffolds to investigate signalling in reconstructed neuronal networks

Bosi S, Rauti R, Laishram J, Turco A, Lonardoni D, Nieus T, Prato M, Scaini D, Ballerini L.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jul 7;112(27):E3619-28.

A structural, functional, and computational analysis suggests pore flexibility as the base for the poor selectivity of CNG channels

Napolitano LM, Bisha I, De March M, Marchesi A, Arcangeletti M, Demitri N, Mazzolini M, Rodriguez A, Magistrato A, Onesti S, Laio A, Torre V.

Nat Commun. 2015 Oct 7;6:8512. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9512.

Membrane stiffening by STOML3 facilitates mechanosensation in sensory neurons

Qi Y, Andolfi L, Frattini F, Mayer F, Lazzarino M, Hu J.

Front. Cell. Neurosci. 9:333 (2015). DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00333

Cdc42 and RhoA reveal different spatio-temporal dynamics upon local stimulation with Semaphorin-3A

Iseppon F, Napolitano LMR, Torre V and Cojoc D.

J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 2015, 36:349-357.

Extracellular stimulation with human “noisy” electromyographic patterns facilitates myotube activity

Sciancalepore M, Coslovich T, Lorenzon P, Ziraldo G, Taccola G.  

Small. 2014 Mar 20. doi: 10.1002/smll.201400245.

A DNA Origami Nanorobot Controlled by Nucleic Acid Hybridization

Torelli E, Marini M, Palmano S, Piantanida L, Polano C, Scarpellini A, Lazzarino M, Firrao G.

PLoS One. 2014 Nov 12;9(11):e112582. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112582. eCollection 2014.

Investigation of Adhesion and Mechanical Properties of Human Glioma Cells by Single Cell Force Spectroscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy

Andolfi L, Bourkoula E, Migliorini E, Palma A, Pucer A, Skrap M, Scoles G, Beltrami AP, Cesselli D, Lazzarino M.

Nanomedicine and the Nervous System 2010, 183–206.

Carbon Nanotubes and Neuronal Performance

Fabbro A, Toma FM, Cellot G, Prato M and Ballerini L.


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Focus - Single Molecule Activation and Computing

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In Vitro locomotor patterns - Innovative protocols of electrical stimulation to activate the in vitro locomotor pattern

In these last years, growing attention has been drawn upon the use of epidural electrical stimulation applied to the dorsal spinal cord to counteract...read more
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