Valentina got the BD in Biomedical Engineering in 2004 and the MD in Bioengineering (Neuroengineering curriculum) in 2006 at the University of Genova.
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, 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 analytical tools to characterize the spontaneous and evoked activity 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, where she worked as Integration Specialist (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 a 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 inhibitory interneurons contribution to the generation and control of cortical slow waves. 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.
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)
2007 - “Gruppo Nazionale di Bioingegneria” (Italian Society of Bioengineering) award for the best master thesis in the field of Bioengineering in 2006-2007