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Davide De Pietri Tonelli

Senior Researcher Tenure Track - Principal Investigator
Group Leader of Neurobiology of miRNA lab.

Research Line

Neurobiology of miRNA


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


Via Morego 30
+39 010 2896 725
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Education: Degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at University of Milano (Italy). PhD in Neurobiology at University of Varese (Italy).

Working experience:

1999-2003 Fellow at DIBIT, Vita-Salute San Raffaele Institute, Milano (Italy). Topic:  post-transcriptional control of gene expression in Neural cells.

2004 to 2008 Fellow in the lab of Wieland Huttner at Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Cell-Biology and Genetics, Dresden (Germany).  Topic: microRNAs in mouse neurogenesis and neocortical development.
2006 External collaborator with Clontech inc. (Mountain View, CA, USA). Topic: in vivo detection of miRNAs expression at the single-cell level.

2008-2013 Researcher (no independence of budget). Kickstart of the Neuroscience and Brain Tech dept. and Animal facility at the Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa, Italy.

2014-current Senior Researcher (in Tenure Track), Group Leader of the Neurobiology of miRNAs lab. Same institute.

Organization of Scientific Meetings

2012     Chairman/lecturer, 7th International MicroRNAs Meeting Europe. Symposium “MicroRNAs in Development”. Nov. 1 - 2. University of Cambridge, UK.

2014     Organizer,1st IIT-Promega industrial collaboration meeting, Oct 27th, IIT Genoa

            Co-organizer/Lecturer, Symposium on microRNAs in brain development ad function, 9th FENS forum, Milan, Italy,

2016     Organizer, 1st IIT-Merck-Sigma-Aldrich industrial collaboration meeting, Aug 23rd IIT Genoa

2017     Co-organizer/Chair/lecturer, Workshop “Emerging complexity and functions of miRNAs-dependent regulation in neuroscience” at the 12th German Neuroscience Society meeting, Göttingen, Germany.

Reviewer for: National and international Grants: 2010, “IIT-SEED” projects (IIT grants for External labs); 2011, Singapore Medical Research Council2017, Royal Society-Wellcome-Trust, UK; 2015-2018, Swiss National Research Foundation, CH. As Panelist of a PhD committee2017, PhD committee, Amsterdam Univ, The Netherlands; 2018, PhD committee, Univ. of Geneva, Switzerland. For International journals (listed in alphabetical order, several reviews per year): Biol. Psych.; Brain Plast.; Cell. Mol. Life Sci.; Development; Developmental Biol.; EMBO. Rep; Front. Neurosci; Front.Genetics; Heliyon; Human Mol. Gen.; J.Mol.Neurosci.; J.Neurosci.; Mol. Neurobiol.; Mol. Psychiatry; Nature Comm.; Neurogenesis; Neuron; Nucl. Acids Res.; PNAS; Prog.Neurobiol., RNABiol.; RNA; Sci.Reports; Stem Cells Dev.; Stem Cell. Rep.; Trend.Biotech.

Membership of professional societies

2008 – Present   Full Member, RNA Society 

2010 – Present   Full Member, International Society for Stem Cells Research

2015 – Present   Associate Member, Japan Neuroscience Society


Neurogenesis is the process of new neuron and glia generation through the differentiation of neural progenitors cells (NPCs). NPCs self-renew and generate committed offspring in a highly regulated fashion. The balance between proliferation and differentiation guarantees brain formation, life-long neurogenesis and prevents tumor formation. Regulation of neurogenesis is crucial but remains unclear. Understanding this regulation is key for comprehending brain (mal)formation and has tremendous implications for mental illness and maintenance of cognitive flexibility for a successful aging.

Neurogenesis has been for long dominated by genetics, but protein-coding genes only account for 2% of the human genome, while >70% transcribes trillions of noncoding RNA molecules with gene-regulatory functions, most of them being unknown. Mounting evidence indicate crucial roles of miRNAs and other noncoding RNAs in the control of NPC differentiation. Noncoding RNAs therefore hold a great therapeutic potential.

Research of my group focuses on:
i) Small RNAs in basic and translational aspects of neurogenesis and rhythmic gene expression in brain
ii) New technological approaches enabling oligotherapy for human brain dysfunctions

Industrial collaborations:

Collaboration with Techniplast SPA (Italy)



EU-REA, Marie Curie Actions (MCA) Call: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-RG. TITLE: NEUROGENESIS IN 22Q11.2 DELETION SYNDROME: ROLE OF microRNAs. ACRONYM: MIRNAS/22Q11DS. D. De Pietri Tonelli, Coordinator; F. Niola, Grantee. Project Budget, 100.000 Euros. Project duration 2011-2015.

FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF. Acronym: “ASTROCLOCK”; Title “Astrocyte regulation of circadian behaviour” Olga Barca Mayo (Grantee); Davide De Pietri Tonelli (Scientific Coordinator). Project Budget: 241.567 €; Project Duration: 2014 – 2016.

AIRC - Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro. Title: Stimuli-Responsive Nanoparticles for eradicating different subsets of cancer cells within tumors. PI Teresa Pellegrino; Davide De Pietri Tonelli (Collaborator). Project Budget 180.000 €; Project Duration 02/01/2014-01/01/2017.

Fondazione CARIPLO, Call 2015 “Biomedical research on ageing-related diseases”. Title “Role of the astrocyte-mediated circadian clock in neurodegeneration and brain aging”. PI/Coordinator Francesco Nicassio IIT@SEMM, Milan; Co-PIs: Davide De Pietri Tonelli, Olga Barca Mayo (NBT Dept. IIT Genoa) and Michele Cilli (H San Martino, Genoa). Project Budget 349,650 €. Project duration 2016-2020

AIRC - Investigator Grant. Role PI. Title: Differentiation therapy for GBM through synergic action of 11 miRNAs/drugs delivered via lipid/polymeric nanoparticles. Project Budget 599.610 €. Project Duration 2018-2022


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