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AboutOrganisation ■ Research Structure

Research Structure

The research is carried out within Research Units, located at the Foundation facilities (the so-called Departments) or hosted by other Research Institutions which through specific agreements; such Research Units are responsible for the implementation of a scientific programme.  All Units have their own personnel and resources and are operatively and financially autonomous. They have at their disposal material and financial assets, which have been assigned to them or they have found themselves.

The Scientific Director coordinates the Research Units, making sure their assets are used efficiently.

The Research Units are directed by a scientist, the Research Director, who is responsible for the implementation of the IIT scientific programme.

Regarding the Foundation structure, the present Research Directors and Department Directors, who have been chosen after an international selection protocol, are widely known scientists who have already made important contributions in their research fields.

The Department Directors are:

Advanced Robotics


Darwin Caldwell received his B.Sc. and Ph.D in Robotics from the University of Hull in 1986 and 1990 respectively. In 1994 he received an M.Sc in Management from the University of Salford.

From 1989 to 2006 he was at the University of Salford as a Lecturer (1989-96), S. Lecturer (1996-97), Reader (1997-99) and finally Professor of Advanced Robotics in the Centre for Robotics and Automation (1999-2006).

He is a visiting/honorary Professor at The University of Manchester, The University of Sheffield, Kings’ College, London, The University of Bangor and Tianjin University, China.


Drug Discovery and Development

dpiomelli Daniele Piomelli was born and educated in Italy, where he earned his degree of Doctor of Pharmacy in 1982. He moved to New York City in 1983, where he studied Pharmacology and Neuroscience with James H. Schwartz and Eric Kandel at Columbia University, and later with Paul Greengard at the Rockefeller University.

Both of his mentors received in 2000 the Nobel Prize for their contributions to medicine.

After working at the INSERM in Paris (France) and at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego (CA), with Nobel Prize-winner Gerald Edelman, Dr. Piomelli joined the University of California, Irvine, where he is Professor of Pharmacology and Louise Turner Arnold Chair in the Neurosciences.



Giorgio Metta
Giorgio Metta holds an MSc cum laude (1994) and PhD (2000) in electronic engineering both from the University of Genoa. In 2001-2002 he was postdoctoral associate at the MIT AI-Lab (now CSAIL). He was assistant professor at the University of Genoa since 2005 (presently on leave of absence) where he used to teach anthropomorphic robotics and intelligent systems. He is with IIT since the end of 2006. Giorgio Metta is also Professor of Cognitive Robotics at the University of Plymouth (UK) from 2012.




Liberato Manna received his MSc in Chemistry from the University of Bari (Italy) in 1996 and his PhD in Chemical Sciences from the same University in 2001. During his PhD studies, and later as postdoctoral fellow, he worked at the University of California Berkeley (USA).

In 2003 he moved back to Italy, as staff scientist at the National Nanotechnology Lab of CNR-INFM in Lecce, (Italy) where he became later responsible for the Nanochemistry Division in 2006.

In April 2009 he moved to the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova as head of the Nanochemistry Department.



diasproAlberto Diaspro was born in Genoa, Italy, on April 7, 1959. He received is doctoral degree in electronic engineering from the University of Genoa, Italy, in 1983. He is University Professor in the Applied Physics Area. He is Head of the Nanophysics Unit of the Italian Institute of Technology.

AD is member of the University advisory Commitee for PhD Courses in Biotechnology (University of Genoa) and Medical Nanotechnology (University of Milan). AD has collaborations with IFOM - FIRC Oncology Institute, Milan, the Institute of Biophysics of the National Research Council (CNR) and NBT-IIT, Italian Institute of Technology. AD founded LAMBS (Laboratory for Advanced Microscopy, Bioimaging and Spectroscopy, AD is author of more than 170 international ISI publications. He is the President of OWLS (Optics With Life Sciences) and ICO (International Commission of Optics) representative.


Neuroscience & Brain Technologies - Neuro Technologies

John AssadJohn Assad received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York and his PhD in Neurobiology from Harvard University.

For his PhD, he investigated biophysical mechanisms of mechano-electric sensory transduction in vestibular hair cells.

He did his postdoctoral training in electrophysiology with John Maunsell, first at the University of Rochester and then at Baylor College of Medicine, where he studied mechanisms of visual perception. He joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1996 and was promoted to full professor at Harvard in 2007.


Neuroscience & Brain Technologies - Synaptic Neuroscience

Fabio Benfenati
Fabio Benfenati
Born in Bologna, Italy, on 5 November 1954.

  • 1979: University of Bologna, School of Medicine Degree: Doctor of Medicine - Field of Study: Neurochemistry
  • 1983: University of Bologna, School of Medicine Postdoctoral School of Neurology Degree: Specialist in Neurology - Field of Study: Neurophysiology


Pattern Analysis and Computer Vision

murinoVittorio Murino is full professor at the University of Verona, Italy, and director of the PAVIS (Pattern Analysis and Computer Vision) department at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. He took the Laurea degree in Electronic Engineering in 1989 and the Ph.D. in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science in 1993 at the University of Genova, Italy.

He held a post-doctoral position from 1993 to 1995, working in the Signal Processing and Understanding Group of the Dept. of Biophysical and Electronic Engineering of the University of Genova as supervisor of research activities on image processing for object recognition and pattern classification in underwater environments. From 1995 to 1998, he was assistant professor at the Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Udine, Italy, and since 1998 he works at the University of Verona. He was chairman of the Department of Computer Science from 2001, year of foundation, to 2007. Prof. Murino is scientific responsible of several national and European projects, and evaluator of EU project proposals related to several frameworks and programs.


Robotics, Brain & Cognitive Sciences

Giulio Sandini is Director of Research at the Italian Institute of Technology and full professor of bioengineering at the University of Genoa. After his graduation in Electronic Engineering (Bioengineering) at the University of Genova in 1976 he was research fellow and assistant professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa until 1984.

During this period, working at the Laboratorio di Neurofisiologia of the CNR, he investigated aspects of visual processing at the level of single neurons as well as aspects of visual perception in human adults and children.