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Marco Pagani

Post Doc
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Research Line

Functional Neuroimaging


CNCS@UniTn Trento


Personal Statement

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow within the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory coordinated by Alessandro Gozzi at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). My main research interest is the investigation of neuro-functional alterations of brain circuits in autism spectrum disorder. Multiple genes have been associated to increased autism risk and the main goal of my current research is to assess the contribution of single genes and copy number variants in the generation of large-scale connectivity disruptions observed in the autistic brain.

To address this problem, as part of a SFARI-funded project, I have applied advanced functional and structural MRI methods to map the effect of specific mutations on the mouse brain architecture. This approach has allowed me to identify disrupted long-range prefrontal connectivity in Shank3B and 16p11.2 mouse mutants, and increased auditory-hippocampal synchronization in Chd8 deletion mice.

This recent research represents an extension of a line of investigation I started during my PhD training, during which I successfully back-translated an extensive set of morpho-anatomical MRI methods widely used in humans (including voxel and tensor based morphometry, cortical thickness and shape measurements) to mouse brain imaging. Through the application of these techniques, my research provided the first demonstration of the use of structural connectivity MRI in small rodents, leading to the identification of specific gray matter networks recapitulating the functional organization of the human brain.


Job Experience

2016-ongoing: Postdoctoral research fellow at the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rovereto (TN) within a project aimed at mapping putative large scale brain network dysfunctions associated to autism-causing genetic mutations.

2013-2016: Doctoral researcher at the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rovereto (TN). My research project focussed on the development and application of image processing tools to structural MRI data to map large scale gray-matter volumes and covariance networks in the mouse brain.

2010-2013: Junior researcher at the Coma Research Centre coordinated by the Neurology, Public Health and Disability Unit of the Neurological Institute Carlo Besta IRCCS Foundation, Milan (MI). My research focused on studying the disability of patients in vegetative and minimally conscious state and the quality of life of their caregivers.

2010: Research assistant at the Biosignal Analysis Centre of Experimental Neurology, Vita-Salute San Raffaele Hospital, Milan (MI). My research focused on bridging neuropsychological assessment and diffusion weighted imaging data in patients with multiple sclerosis.


Other Activities

2015-2016: Collaborator of the start-up R.A.W Ltd in a project aimed to provide neurosurgeons with 3d reconstruction of segmented MRI brain images for tumour surgery.

2013-2017: Collaborator as exam committee member in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology at eCampus University in Novedrate (CO).


Academic Education

2013-2016: PhD in Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Center for Mind and Brain Sciences, University of Trento (TN) with a scholarship awarded by Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. 

2012-2013: MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan (MI), awarded with full marks.

2008-2009: MSc in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at Goldsmiths College - University of London (UK), achieved with distinction.

2004-2007: Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan (MI), awarded with full marks.


2016-ongoing: Collaborator within the project "Neurobiological basis of connectivity alterations in autism" supported by SFARI Foundation.

2013-2016:  Phd scholarship “Investigating the mouse brain connectome with MRI” awarded by Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia.

2010-2013: Collaborator within the project "Start-up Coma Research Center" supported by Regione Lombardia.

Selected Publications

Bertero A*, Liska A*, Pagani M*, Parolisi R, Masferrer ME, Gritti M, Pedrazzoli M, Galbusera A, Sarica A, Cerasa A, Buffelli M, Tonini R, Buffo A, Gross C, Pasqualetti M, Gozzi A (2018) Autism-associated 16p11.2 microdeletion impairs prefrontal functional connectivity in mouse and human. Brain [Epub ahead of print].

Suetterlin P, Hurley S, Mohan C, Riegman K, Pagani M, Caruso A, Ellegood J, Galbusera A, Crespo-Enriquez I, Michetti C, Ellingford R, Brock O, Delogu A, Francis-West F, Lerch J, Scattoni ML, Gozzi A, Fernandes C, Basson A (2017). Early postnatal brain overgrowth and gene expression changes prefigure functional over-connectivity of the cortex in Chd8 haploinsufficient mice. Cereb Cortex [Epub ahead of print].

Michetti C, Caruso A, Pagani M, Sabbioni M, Medrihan L, David G, Galbusera A, Morini M, Gozzi A, Benfenati F and Scattoni ML (2017). The knockout of Synapsyn II in mice impairs social behavior and functional connectivity generating an ASD-like phenotype. Cereb Cortex, 27:5014-23.

Pagani M, Bifone A, Gozzi A (2016). Networks of anatomical covariance in the mouse brain. NeuroImage, 129:55-63.

Pagani M, Damiano M, Galbusera A, Tsaftaris SA, Gozzi A (2016). Semi-automated registration-based volumetric labelling, voxel based morphometry and cortical thickness mapping of the mouse brain. J Neurosci Meth, 267:62-73.


2016: Magna cum laude for the poster “Pagani M, Bifone A, Gozzi A. Gray matter networks of the mouse brain.” at ISMRM in Singapore.

2016: Magna cum laude for the poster “Pagani M, Damiano M, Galbusera A, Tsaftaris SA, Gozzi A. An automated pipeline for mouse brain morphometric MRI.” at ISMRM in Singapore.


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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.