Valentina got the BD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Genova in September 2004, with a thesis about Models and simulations of networks of cortical neurons in vitro, developed in the NEURON environment, under the supervision of Prof. Vittorio Sanguineti. She then pursued her engineering studies and got the MD in Bioengineering (Neuroengineering curriculum) in November 2006. Her thesis work was about Self-organized critical states and population dynamics in networks of cortical neurons in vitro, realized in the lab of Prof. Sergio Martinoia.
From 2007 to 2009 she worked as pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Genova and at the recently funded Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, in the Department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies, again under the supervision of Prof. Sergio Martinoia (Neuroengineering and Bio-nanotechnology Lab). In 2010, she got the PhD in Humanoid Technologies from the University of Genova. During PhD, she focused on developing algorithms to characterize the spontaneous and evoked network dynamics of cortical and hippocampal networks cultured on planar Micro-Electrode Arrays (MEAs), seen as a reduced biological model for the generation of coordinated neuronal activity.
After a brief experience in Carestream Health, leading company in the fields of diagnostic imaging and healthcare information technology systems worldwide, where she worked as Integration Specialist (EAMER HCIS) (2011-2012), she came back to academic research to work with Dr. Michela Chiappalone. During this first post-doc she was involved in neuro-robotics and neuro-prosthetics studies, aimed at understanding how to interface artificial devices (as a small robot or a simulated neural network) and neuronal systems, with the final goal of advancing the design of future brain-machine interfaces and brain prostheses. In this framework, she worked within an EU-funded “FET Open Young Explorers” project (BRAIN BOW, http://www.brainbowproject.eu/) from 2012 to 2015 as co-investigator in the IIT unit. Moreover, she was also involved in another research project aimed at investigating in vivo the effects of open- and closed-loop micro-stimulation protocols on cortical functional connectivity to advance neuro-rehabilitation treatments following brain injuries. This research was funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a bilateral project of high relevance between Italy and USA (2016-2018).
Currently, she has been working as senior post-doc in Dr. Tommaso Fellin's lab (Optical Approches to Brain Function), since May 2017. Her interests include in vivo studies combining optogenetics and electrophysiology for a deeper understanding of different cells' (e.g. inhibitory interneurons) contribution to the generation and control of sleep waves. To do so, she has been collaborating with Dr. Tommaso Fellin and Dr. Stefano Panzeri for the development of innovative analytical methods. Another research line she is currently involved in is the design and development of technological tools for in vivo patterned optical stimulation through light phase modulation.
Linking biological and artificial neuronal assemblies to restore lost brain functions: towards the design of innovative bi-directional neuroprostheses – BRAIN-BOW, European Union ‘FET Open Young Explorers’, www.brainbowproject.eu (2012-2015). Role: co-investigator in the IIT unit.
Novel technological approaches for rewiring neural circuitry following brain injury, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy (MAE), Bi-lateral project of high relevance: Italy-USA action (2016-2017). Role: co-investigator in the IIT unit.
Pasquale, V., Martinoia, S. Chiappalone, M., (2016) Stimulation triggers endogenous activity patterns in cultured cortical networks. Scientific Reports 7 (1), 9080.
Zucca, S.*, D’Urso G.*, Pasquale, V., Vecchia, D., Pica, G., Bovetti, S., Moretti, C., Varani, S., Molano-Mazòn, M., Chiappalone, M., Panzeri, S., Fellin, T. (2016) An inhibitory gate for state transition in cortex. eLife 6, e26177. * Equal first-author contribution.
Scarsi, F., Tessadori, J., Chiappalone, M.*, Pasquale, V.* (2016) Investigating the impact of electrical stimulation temporal distribution on neuronal network responses, BMC Neuroscience 18 (1), 49. *Equal senior-author contribution.
Colombi, I., Tinarelli, F., Pasquale, V., Tucci, V.*, Chiappalone, M.* (2016) A Simplified In vitro Experimental Model Encompasses the Essential Features of Sleep. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10 (00315). * Equal senior-author contribution
Massobrio, P., Pasquale, V., Martinoia, S. (2015) Self-organized criticality in cortical assemblies occurs in concurrent scale-free and small-world networks. Scientific Reports, 5, art. no. 10578.
Massobrio, P., de Arcangelis, L., Pasquale, V., Jensen, H.J., Plenz, D. (2015) Criticality as a signature of healthy neural systems. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9 (FEB), 4 p. 22.
Breschi, G.L.*, Ciliberto, C.*, Nieus, T.*, Rosasco, L., Taverna, S., Chiappalone, M., Pasquale, V. (2015) Characterizing the input-output function of the olfactory-limbic pathway in the Guinea pig. Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience, 2015, art. no. 359590. * Equal first-author contribution
Bisio, M.*, Bosca, A.*, Pasquale, V., Berdondini, L., Chiappalone, M. (2014) Emergence of bursting activity in connected neuronal sub-populations. PLoS ONE, 9 (9), art. no. e107400. * Equal first-author contribution
Bonifazi, P.*, Difato, F.*, Massobrio, P.*, Breschi, G. L., Pasquale, V., Levi, T., Goldin, M., Bornat, Y., Tedesco, M., Bisio, M., Kanner, S., Galron, R., Tessadori, J., Taverna, S., Chiappalone, M. (2013) In vitro large-scale experimental and theoretical studies for the realization of bi-directional brain-prostheses. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 7(40). * Equal first-author contribution
Frega, M.*, Pasquale, V.*, Tedesco, M., Marcoli, M., Contestabile, A., Nanni, M., Bonzano, L., Maura, G., Chiappalone, M. (2012) Cortical cultures coupled to Micro-Electrode Arrays: a novel approach to perform in vitro excitotoxicity testing. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 34(1):116-27. * Equal first-author contribution
Bologna, L.L., Pasquale, V., Gandolfo, M., Baljon, P.L., Garofalo, M., Maccione, A., Martinoia, S., Chiappalone, M. (2010) Investigating neuronal activity by SPYCODE multichannel data analyzer. Neural Networks, 23(6), 685-697.
Pasquale, V., Martinoia, S., Chiappalone, M. (2010) A self-adapting approach for the detection of bursts and network bursts in neuronal cultures. Journal of Computational Neuroscience, 29(1-2), 213-229.
Pasquale, V., Massobrio, P., Bologna, L.L., Chiappalone, M., Martinoia, S. (2008) Self-organization and neuronal avalanches in networks of dissociated cortical neurons. Neuroscience, 153(4), 1354-1369.
2017 - Workshop travel grant to attend the CNS Meeting 2017 in Antwerp
2013 - Travel grant to attend the CNS Meeting 2013 in Paris
2010 - Best Contribution Award, Frontiers in Neuroengineering Workshop, Monte Verita’ (Ascona)
2008 - Admission to the FENS-IBRO PENS-Blackwell summer school 2008
2007 - “Gruppo Nazionale di Bioingegneria” (Italian Society of Bioengineering) award for the best master thesis in the field of Bioengineering in 2006-2007
2007 - Admission to the PhD School of Humanoid Technologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (score: 90/100)
2006 - Worthiness of publication and highest honors for MEng thesis (110/110 cum laude),University of Genova
2004 - Highest honors for BEng thesis (110/110 cum laude), University of Genova
2004 - Awarded among the best students of the University of Genova
2003 - Awarded among the best students of the University of Genova
2001 - Awarded among the best graduated students of the Italian high schools by Soroptimist International d’Italia (www.soroptimist.it)