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Valter Tucci

Senior Researcher Tenure Track - Principal Investigator
Senior Researcher

Research Line

Genetics and Epigenetics of Behavior


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


Via Morego 30
+39 010 71781 747
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Valter Tucci is Senior Group Leader of the Neurobehavioural Genetics group at the Italian Institute of Technology (Genoa).

Before joining the IIT he has worked at the University of Padua and Bologna (Italy), at the Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) and at the MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit in Harwell (UK). He graduated in 2000 studying the cardiovascular and emotional changes associated with sleep and cognitive states in humans. During his pre-doctoral work he investigated physiological and cognitive mechanisms associated with narcolepsy but, soon after the first study, he has obtained a CNR fellowship and he moved to Boston (USA). In Boston he joined the Anatomy and Neurobiology Department of BU and at the Clinical Research Center in MIT. In 2003 Valter Tucci returned to Europe and he was awarded an MRC Career Development Fellowship within the Neurobehavioural Genetics group in Harwell (Oxford). At this time he switched to work on mouse behavioural genetics. After two years he was promoted to the post of Investigator Scientist. In Harwell he has conducted extensive behavioural and cognitive investigations of mouse genetic models. Whilst he was studying the genetics of mouse behaviour and circadian rhythms he has developed a particular interest in epigenetics. Later, as PI in IIT, he focused on the investigation of epigenetic mechanisms of physiological and behavioural processes. Currently, his group explores a new research hypothesis that focuses on understanding the role of genomic imprinting in sleep and cognition.

During his career he has participated in several EU funded consortia in the field of mouse genetics. I served as reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals and for international funding agencies (e.g. NIH, MRC, EC). In 2013 he was Guest Editor for a special issue of the Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. dedicated to the Neurobiology of Timing.


Selected Publications

Selected articles:

  • Balzani E, Lassi G, Maggi M, Sethi S, Parsons MJ, Simon M, Nolan P, Tucci V. The New Zfhx3-mediated Axis Regulates Sleep and Interval Timing in Mice. Cell Reports. In press.
  • Tucci V (2016) Genomic Imprinting: A New Epigenetic Perspective of Sleep Regulation. PLoS Genet 12(5): e1006004. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1006004
  • Lassi, G., Priano, L., Maggi, S., Garcia-Garcia, C., Balzani, E., El-Assawy, N., Pagani, M., Tinarelli, F., Giardino, D., Mauro, A., Peters, J., Gozzi, A., Grugni, G., Tucci V. Deletion of the Snord116/SNORD116 Alters Sleep in Mice and Patients with Prader-Willi Syndrome. SLEEP. 2016 Mar 1;39(3):637-44. doi: 10.5665/sleep.5542.
  • Tucci V, Kleefstra T, Hardy A, Heise I et al., Dominant β-catenin mutations cause intellectual disability with recognizable syndromic features. J Clin Invest. 2014 Mar 10. pii: 70372. doi: 10.1172/JCI70372.
  • Tinarelli F., Garcia-Garcia C., Nicassio F., Tucci V.  Parent-of-origin genetic background affects the transcriptional levels of circadian, imprinted and neuronal plasticity genes following sleep loss. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.   2014 Jan 20;369(1637).
  • Maggi S, Garbugino L, Heise I, Nieus T, Balci F, Wells S, Tocchini-Valentini GP, Mandillo S, Nolan PM, Tucci V. A cross-laboratory investigation of timing endophenotypes in mouse behavior. Timing & Time Perception 2 (2014) 35–50.
  • Lassi G, Ball ST, Maggi S, Colonna G, Nieus T, Cero C, Bartolomucci A, Peters J, Tucci V. Loss of Gnas Imprinting Differentially Affects REM/NREM Sleep and Cognition in Mice. PLoS Genet. 2012 May;8(5).
  • Tucci V, Achilli F, Blanco G, Lad HV, Wells S, Godinho S, Nolan PM. Reaching and grasping phenotypes in the mouse (Mus musculus): a characterization of inbred strains and mutant lines. Neuroscience. 2007 Jul 13;147(3):573-82.
  • Corrochano Sanchez S, Roope M… Tucci et al. Novel mutations in human and mouse SCN4A implicate AMPK in myotonia and periodic paralysis. Brain. 2014 Dec;137(Pt 12):3171-85.
  • Beltramo R, D’Urso G, Dal Maschio M, Farisello P, Bovetti S, Clovis Y, Lassi G, Tucci V, DePietri Tonelli D, Fellin T. Layer-specific excitatory circuits differentially control recurrent network dynamics in the neocortex. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Jan 13.
  • Contestabile A, Greco B, Ghezzi D, Tucci V, Benfenati F and Gasparini L. Lithium rescues hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory in a mouse model of Down syndrome by restoring adult neurogenesis. J Clin Invest. 2012 Dec 3.
  • Iurilli G, Ghezzi D, Olcese U, Lassi G, Nazzaro C, Tonini R, Tucci V, Benfenati F, Medini P. Sound-driven synaptic inhibition in primary visual cortex. Neuron. 2012 Feb 23;73(4):814-28.
  • Godinho SI*, Maywood ES*, Shaw L*, Tucci V, Barnard AR, Busino L, Pagano M, Kendall R, Quwailid MM, Romero MR, O'neill J, Chesham JE, Brooker D, Lalanne Z, Hastings MH, Nolan PM. The after-hours mutant reveals a role for Fbxl3 in determining mammalian circadian period. Science. 2007 May 11;316(5826):897-900. * joint first authors.
  • Espinoza S, Lignani G, Caffino L, Maggi S… Tucci V, Fumagalli F, Gainetdinov RR. TAAR1 Modulates Cortical Glutamate NMDA Receptor Function. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Mar 9. doi:10.1038/npp.2015.65.
  • Tsai SB, Tucci V, Uchiyama J, Fabian NJ, Lin MC, Bayliss PE, Neuberg DS, Zhdanova IV, Kishi S. Differential effects of genotoxic stress on both concurrent body growth and gradual senescence in the adult zebrafish. Aging Cell. 2007 Apr;6(2):209-24.
  • Eumorphia Consortium. EMPReSS: standardized phenotype screens for functional annotation of the mouse genome. Nat Genet. 2005 Nov;37(11):1155.
  • Barini E, Antico O, Zhao Y, Asta F, Tucci V, Catelani T, Marotta R, Xu H, Gasparini L. Metformin promotes tau aggregation and exacerbates abnormal behavior in a mouse model of tauopathy. Mol Neurodegener. 2016 Feb 9;11(1):16. doi:10.1186/s13024-016-0082-7.
  • Lee SA, Tucci V, Sovrano VA, Vallortigara G. Working memory and reference memory tests of spatial navigation in mice (Mus musculus). J Comp Psychol. 2015 May;129(2):189-97. doi: 10.1037/a0039129.
  • Gallistel CR, Tucci V, et al. Cognitive Assessment of Mice Strains Heterozygous for Cell-Adhesion Genes Reveals Strain-Specific Alterations in Timing Precision. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.   2014 Jan 20;369(1637)
  • Greco B, Managò F, Tucci V, Kao HT, Valtorta F, Benfenati F. Autism-related behavioral abnormalities in synapsin knockout mice. Behav Brain Res. 2012 Dec 29.
  • Miller G, Neilan M, Chia R, Gheryani N, Holt N, Charbit A, Wells S, Tucci V, et al. ENU mutagenesis reveals a novel phenotype of reduced limb strength in mice lacking fibrillin 2. PLoS One. 2010 Feb 9;5(2):e9137.
  • Achilli F, Bros-Facer V, Williams HP, Banks GT, AlQatari M, Chia R, Tucci V, et al. An ENU-induced mutation in mouse glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS) causes peripheral sensory and motor phenotypes creating a model of Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 2D peripheral neuropathy. Dis Model Mech. 2009 Jul-Aug;2(7-8):359-73.
  • Mandillo S*, Tucci V*, et al. Reliability, robustness, and reproducibility in mouse behavioral phenotyping: a cross-laboratory study. Physiol Genomics. 2008 Aug 15;34(3):243-55. *Joint first authors.
  • Yu L, Tucci V, Kishi S, Zhdanova IV. Cognitive aging in zebrafish. PLoS One. 2006 Dec 20;1:e14.
  • Tucci V, Lad HV, Parker A, Polley S, Brown SD, Nolan PM. Gene-environment interactions differentially affect mouse strain behavioral parameters. Mamm Genome. 2006 Nov;17(11):1113-20.
  • Tucci V, Hardy A, Nolan PM. A comparison of physiological and behavioural parameters in C57BL/6J mice undergoing food or water restriction regimes. Behav Brain Res. 2006 Oct 2;173(1):22-9.
  • Tucci V, Stegagno L, Vandi S, Ferrillo F, Palomba D, Vignatelli L, Ferini-Strambi L, Montagna P, Plazzi G. Emotional information processing in patients with narcolepsy: a psychophysiologic investigation. SLEEP. 2003 Aug 1;26(5):558-64.


- Reviews

  • Tucci V, Lassi G, Kas MJ. Current Understanding of the Interplay Between Catechol-O-Methyltransferase Genetic Variants, Sleep, Brain Development and Cognitive Performance In Schizophrenia. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2012 Apr 4.
  • Tucci V. Sleep, circadian rhythms, and interval timing: evolutionary strategies to time information. Front Integr Neurosci. 2011;5:92.
  • Tucci V, Plazzi G. Cataplexy: an affair of pleasure or an unpleasant affair? Neurosci Lett. 2009 Jan 30;450(2):90-1.
  • Zhdanova IV, Tucci V. Melatonin, Circadian Rhythms, and Sleep. Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2003 May;5(3):225-229.

- Book Chapters

  • Lassi G & Tucci V (2013). Sleep endophenotypes across mouse models. In Wim E. Crusio (Ed), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Genetics. Cambridge University Press. In Press.
  • Lassi G, Tucci V (2012). The Genetics and Epigenetics of Sleep. In D. Barrett and P. McNamara (Eds.), Encyclopedia of sleep and dreams. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishers.
  • Lassi G, Tucci V (2012). Genetics of Mouse Sleep Physiology. In D. Barrett and P. McNamara (Eds.), Encyclopedia of sleep and dreams. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishers.
  • Tucci V, & Nolan PM (2009). Toward an understanding of the function of sleep: New insights from mouse genetics. In P. McNamara, R. A. Barton, & C. L. Nunn (Eds.), Evolution of sleep: Phylogenetic and functional perspectives (pp. 218-237). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Tucci V, Blanco G, Nolan P (2006). Behavioural and neurological phenotyping in the mouse. In Standards of Mouse Model Phenotyping, Martin Hrabe De angelis, Pierre Chambon, and S. Brown, Editors., WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co.
  • Tucci V. Introduzione alla Genetica Comportamentale. In Stegagno L, (Ed). 2009. Zanichelli. Bologna.
  • Tucci V and Tucci G (2009). Che cos’è la Genetica Comportamentale. Carocci editore. Roma.
  • Stegagno L., Tucci V. Le emozioni della notte (Psicofisiologia e Neuropsicologia del sonno). Psicologia Contemporanea. July 2004. [Italian].


2001                            CNR fellowship on “The study of Circadian Rhythms in around the world

                                    Sailors (the British sailor Ellen Macarthur)”

2008                            “Young Investigator” award by the President of Italy (Giorgio Napolitano)

2008                            Gold Medal “Mente & Cervello” Italian edition of “Scientific American Mind


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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.