In the Biology domain, Scuola Normale has had, until recently, two laboratories : the Laboratory of Neurobiology (Director prof. Lamberto Maffei) and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Director Prof. Arturo Falaschi).
The research at the Laboratory of Neurobiology has been, traditionally, mainly focussed on the study of the visual system plasticity, during development and in the adult, and in recent years has led to the identification of a number of molecules (neurotrophins, extracellular matrix regulators, etc.) or of procedures (such as enriched environment) able to regulate the opening and closure of the critical periods for plasticity in the adult nervous system. The SNS Laboratory of Neurobiology has gained international reputation, thanks to the quality of its research and of the results obtained. Under L. Maffei's guidance, many SNS students have been very successful, and are now established neuroscientists around the world.
The Laboratory of Molecular Biology has carried out research at the molecular level, in the field of DNA replication and of molecular virology, and has been the reference for SNS Biology students in the field of molecular biology.
BioSNS: SNS Laboratory of NeuroBiology
The scientific focus of research at BioSNS is the study of the brain, investigating aspects of brain function and mechanisms during development, in the adult and in ageing.
The research at the SNS Laboratory of NeuroBiology (BioSNS) follows two main directions: the main scientific focus will be on Neurobiology and Neurosciences (which remain an area of great strength and tradition at SNS), and the continuity with the past strong research record in visual neurosciences, is complemented and integrated by new scientific programs investigating the molecular and cellular basis of neural development and stem cell biology, neurodegeneration and ageing.
Major advancements in neurosciences rely heavily on new methods. For this reason, the broad scientific aims in Neurobiology are accompanied by a strong effort in the development of new experimental methods and technologies, in the fields of genomics (particularly small RNA genomic technologies), recombinant antibodies (particularly intrabodies), optogenetics and genetic incorporation of unnatural aminoacids, through genetic code expansion, in recombinant proteins of interest.
Scientific activities at the BioSNS Laboratory of Neurobiology are carried out in the following research projects
- Steering the differentiation fate of embryonic stem cells: a microRNA approach (Federico Cremisi)
- Synaptic plasticity in the visual system (Matteo Caleo and Tommaso Pizzorusso)
- Biology of ageing in the newly established Notobranchius furzeri model (Alessandro Cellerino)
- Mechanisms of neurodegeneration in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease and possible translation to human AD (Simona Capsoni and Antonino Cattaneo)
- Towards NGF-based therapies for Alzheimer's disease (Antonino Cattaneo and Simona Capsoni)
- Molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in α-synucleopathy (Emanuela Colla)
- NGF and pain, in the rare genetic diseases HSAN IV and HSAN V (hereditary Sensory and Autonomic neuropathy type IV and type V) (Simona Capsoni)
- Chromatin remodelling, and intranasal nano delivery approaches for brain tumor and Rett syndrome treatments (Mario Costa)
- Intrabodies for neuronal and synaptic function (Antonino Cattaneo)
- Epigenetic control of gene expression regulates cortical plasticity (Tommaso Pizzorusso)
- Identification and characterisation of cellular proteins involved in retroviral infection by whole human genome, high-throughput siRNA screening (Valentina Quercioli)