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Valentina Pasquale Write a Message

Post Doc
Post-doc @ Optical Approaches to Brain Function

Research Line

Optical Approaches to Brain Function


IIT Central Research Lab Genova


Via Morego, 30
+39 010 71781 475


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, 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’, (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.

Selected Publications

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 (


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Accetta e chiudi

I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.