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Angelo Bifone

Visiting scientist
Professor of Applied Physics, previously Tenured Senior Scientist and Director at IIT




Corso Bettini, 31
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Current position

2018 to date: Full Professor of Applied Physics at University of Torino and Senior Scientist at IIT

President of the Intellectual Property committee of the University of Torino.


After completing my undergraduate studies in Physics at the University of Rome, I earned a PhD in Physics from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and a Master in Business Administration from Alma Graduate School, University of Bologna.

My career includes stints in academia and in industry R&D. I worked as a PostDoc at the University of Berkeley (California) and at the University of Leiden (The Netherlands). From 1996 to 2001 I was  a Lecturer at the Institute of Cancer Research (UK), where I obtained the status of Teacher of the University of London. For 9 years I headed the Neuroimaging Department of the Medicines Research Center of Glaxo Smith-Kline, a large research-based pharmaceutical company, in Verona, Italy. In 2010 I joined the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, where I took roles of increasing responsibility.

Previous positions

2016-2018: Director MRI Research Line and Tenured Senior Scientist of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

2013-2016: Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Cognitive Systems, IIT@UniTn, Rovereto, Italy

2010-2013: Director of the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation, IIT@NEST, Pisa, Italy

2001-2010: Director of the Department of Neuroimaging, Glaxo Smith-Kline Research Center, Verona, Italy

1996-2001: Lecturer in Magnetic Resonance, Instiute of Cancer Research, University of London, UK.

1994-1996: Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemistry Department, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.


1990: Master Degree ("Laurea") in Physics, University of Rome "La Sapienza", Italy.

1991-1994: PhD in Physics, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy (supervisor Prof. Franco Bassani).
My doctoral work was performed at the University of California at Berkeley, USA, under the supervision of Prof. Alex Pines.

2004-2005: Master in Business Administration (MBA), Alma Graduate School, University of Bologna, Italy.


I have authored and co-authored over 120 papers in international journals (including PNAS, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience, Physical Review Letters and top-tier specialist journals in the area of biomedical imaging), collecting ca. 6000 citations (Scholar).
h-index: 43 (Scholar Google), 38 (Scopus).
I have also authored 6 patents, several book chapters and over 220 asbtracts in the proceedings of international conferences.


In 2004 I was awarded the Sapio Prize for Italian Research.

2002-2005: Honorary Lectureship, University of London, The Institute of Cancer Research

2012: Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale, Full Professor (I Fascia) of Applied Physics



Research interests:

My research activity is focused primarily on the development of biomedical imaging techniques, with an emphasis on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and its application to the neurosciences. A physicist by training, I have strived throughout my scientific career to improve sensitivity, resolution and specificity of MRI, and to push the boundaries of this technique as a diagnostic and research tool to study brain structure and function.

My first research efforts as an independent scientist were aimed at the development of high-sensitivity MR tracers (dubbed hyperpolarized agents) to map perfusion in healthy tissues and tumors. While my initial interest lay in the chemico-physical properties of MR imaging probes, I became increasingly involved in their application to functional MRI (fMRI), a method to map hemodynamic responses in the brain as a surrogate for changes in the underlying neuronal activity. Normally, functional MRI relies on an endogenous contrast mechanism, the BOLD effect, which results in very small MR signal changes (only a few percent, at best). The use of exogenous agents can dramatically increase the sensitivity of fMRI, thus improving spatial resolution and making it possible to resolve the brain functional architecture at a finer level. Over the last 12 years, my group has substantially advanced fMRI in models of human neurological and psychiatric disease, with the goal to identify imaging endophenotypes (i.e., biological markers of disease traits) and functional markers of response to treatment. A particularly distinctive aspect of my research has been the study of brain functional connectivity and its pharmacological modulation, an area that my group has pioneered. In an industry R&D environment, we have extensively applied these methods to the drug discovery process for psychiatric and neurological indications, providing a powerful translational tool to accelerate progression of novel therapeutic agents towards the clinic.

My current pursuit is the combination of MR Imaging, theoretical modeling and transgenic technology to elucidate the neurophysiological basis of functional conenctivity and its derangements in neurological and psychiatric disease, with a particular interest in addiction. My goal is to develop a translational platform to map and characterize the architecture of functional connectivity, to identify its neurochemical determinants, and to establish causal relations between aberrant connectivity pathways and behavior.

In parallel, I cultivate my long-term interest in novel agents for imaging. Specifically, I am leading a Project focusing on Nitrogen-Vacancy centers in nanostructured diamond as a means to hyperpolarize nuclear spins for the production of hyperpolarized agents for imaging of cells and tissues in living organisms, and for high-density mapping of neuronal activity. 




In 2004 I was awarded the Sapio Prize for Italian Research.

2002-2005: Honorary Lectureship, University of London, The Institute of Cancer Research

2012: Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale, Full Professor (I Fascia) of Applied Physics


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