After receiving a master degree in Biotechnology at the University of Verona (Italy) in 1998, I joined the neuroscience centre of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a large research-based pharmaceutical company based in Verona (Italy) and Harlow (UK), where I pioneered the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to describe the neural substrates modulated by pharmacological agents, a line of research that I also pursued to obtain a PhD degree in biomedical imaging with the University of Verona.
During my years at GSK I took on roles of increasing responsibility, and developed a strong background in MRI, image processing and analysis, as well as in the application of translational approaches to study neuropsychiatric brain disorders.
In 2010 I joined the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, where I lead the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory. The lab is equipped with a 4-channel 7 Tesla MRI scanner for in vivo imaging.
During my research activity, I have described the circuital substrates modulated by centrally-active agents in multiple areas of experimental neuroscience (e.g. schizophrenia, depression, drug addiction etc.) and identified functional and structural alterations in different rodent models of brain pathology. More recently, I have demonstrated the feasibility of using fMRI in combination with pharmaco-genetic silencing to dissect the circuital basis of complex behaviors, and demonstrated for the first time that the mouse brain contains distributed resting-state functional connectivity networks, including plausible homologues of the human default-mode (DMN) and salience networks.
My current research is primarily focused on the application of advanced MRI methods to investigate the large-scale neurofunctional architecture of the mouse brain, and describe its modulation by neurodevelopmental and pathological effectors. A major goal of my research is to probe the activity of functional network systems as a novel cross-species translational language that can be related to specific behaviours, cognitive processes and neuropathological traits.
My research focuses on the development and application of advanced MRI methods to describe large scale circuits in the mammalian brain and to understand the basis of functional disconnection in brain disorders.
Active research projects include
- description of the connectional architecture of the mouse brain using fMRI
- deconstruction of brain-wide functional coupling at multiple scales
- cross-species investigations of the neural basis of functional dysconnectivity in developmental disorders (e.g. autism)
In 2018 I have been awarded of Starting Grant from the European REseacrh Council (ERC) on the investigation of neural basis of functional disconnectivity
Graduate student training opportunities include studies at multiple levels across the areas of research described above, with a particular focus on image analysis and processing, and the development and validation of concurrent MRI/ optical and electro-physiological measurements.
Google Scholar Bibliometrics
ERC Starting Grant, Neural basis of fucntional disconnectivity in brain disorders - DisConn, 2019-2024
NARSAD Indpendent Investigator Grant 2017
Simmons Foundation for Autism Research (SFARI) explorer award (2016)
Simmons Foundation for Autism Research (SFARI) explorer award (2014)
GlaxoSmithKline Exceptional Science Award (2006)
GlaxoSmithKline Scinovation Award (2007 and 2009)