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Michela Chiappalone


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Rehab Technologies - INAIL-IIT lab


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


Via Morego 30
+39 010 2896 743
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Michela Chiappalone graduated in Electronic Engineering (summa cum laude) at the University of Genova (Italy) in 1999 and obtained a PhD in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science from the same University in 2003. During the last year of her PhD training, she has been visiting scholar at the Dept. of Physiology of the Northwestern University (Chicago, IL, USA), under the supervision of Prof F.A. Mussa-Ivaldi, working on a neuro-robotic system involving the brain of a sea lamprey connected to a small mobile robot.

From 2003 to 2006 she got a fellowship from the University of Genova under the supervision of Prof. S. Martinoia, being involved in several national and international projects on neuroengineering studies. In 2004 she won the Italian “PATRON PhD Award” for the best PhD dissertation in the bioengineering field.

From 2007 to 2012 she has been Post-Doc at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in the Neuroscience and Brain Technologies Dept. (NBT), led by Prof. F. Benfenati and Prof. J. Assad. In 2012 M. Chiappalone has been awarded a FET Young Explorers grant by the European Commission as Coordinator of the project ‘BRAIN BOW’ ( Since 2013, as a 'Researcher', she has been leading the ‘Neural Interface and Network Electrophysiology’ (NINE) lab in the same Institution. From January to Febraury2015 M. Chiappalone has been 'Visiting Professor' at the Center on Aging of the Kansas University Medical Center, led by Prof. Randoph J. Nudo.

Her main research interests include: (1) Dynamics and plasticity of healthy and injured neuronal assemblies;  (2) Neuromodulation after stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury; (3) Closed-loop architectures;  (4) In vitro cultures as a tool for high-throughput neuropharmacological and neurotoxicological screening; (5) Algorithms for multichannel data analysis. M. Chiappalone contributed to all these activities with 45 publications in International Journals, 5 book chapters and more than 70 contributions at international conferences.



Novel technological approaches for rewiring neural circuitry following brain injury, Ministry of Foreign Affair of Italy (MAE), Bi-lateral project of high relevance: Italy-USA action. Role: Coordinator of the project (2016-2017). Two partners: IIT (PI M Chiappalone) and KUMC (PI RJ Nudo).

Rewiring Brain Units: bridging the gap of neuronal communication by means of intelligent hybrid systems – ReBUs, European Commission ‘H2020-MSCA-IF-2014’. Role: Coordinator of the project and Scientific Supervisor of Dr Gabriella Panuccio. Total grant: 180’277.00€ (2016-2018).

Linking biological and artificial neuronal assemblies to restore lost brain functions: towards the design of innovative bi-directional neuroprostheses – BRAIN-BOW
, European Commission ‘FET Open Young Explorers’, Started February, 2012. Role: Coordinator of the project and PI for the IIT unit. Four partners. Total grant: 997’148.00€ (2012-2015).

Towards new Brain-Machine Interfaces: state-dependent information coding – SI-CODE, European Commission ‘FET Open’, to be started March, 2012. Role: Co-investigator in the IIT unit. Five partners. Total grant: 2’470’000€ (2012-2015).

Selected Publications

PUBLICATIONS in International Journals since 2012

Chiolerio A, Chiappalone M, Ariano P, and Bocchini S. Coupling resistive switching devices with neurons: state of the art and perspectives. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2017 (accepted)

Panuccio G, Semprini M, and Chiappalone M. Intelligent biohybrid systems for functional brain repair. New Horizons in Translational Medicine, (in press) 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.nhtm.2016.10.001

Soloperto A, Bisio M, Palazzolo G, Chiappalone M, Bonifazi P and Difato F. Modulation of neural network activity through single cell ablation: an in vitro model of minimally invasive neurosurgery. Molecules, 21(8). pii: E1018, 2016.

Colombi I, Tinarelli F, Pasquale V, Tucci V*, and Chiappalone M*. A simplified in vitro experimental model encompasses the main features of sleep Frontiers in Neuroscience 10: 315, 2016. *Equal Senior contribution.

Vassallo A*, Chiappalone M*, De Camargo Lopes R, Scelfo B, Novellino A, Defranchi E, Palosaari T, Weisschu T, Ramirez T, Martinoia S, Johnstone AFM, Mack CM, Landsiedel R, Whealan M, Bal-Price A, and Shafer TJ. A multi-laboratory evaluation of microelectrode array-based measurements of neural network activity for acute neurotoxicity testing. Neurotoxicology pii: S0161-813X (16)30041-9, 2016. *Equal First Author contribution.

Breschi GL, Ciliberto C, Nieus T, Rosasco L, Taverna S, Chiappalone M, and Pasquale V. Characterizing the input-output function of the olfactory-limbic pathway in the guinea pig. Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience 2015: 359590, 2015.

Kanner S, Bisio M, Cohen G, Goldin M, Tedesco M, Hanein Y, Ben-Jacob E, Barzilai A, Chiappalone M and Bonifazi P. Design, surface treatment, cellular plating and culturing of modular neuronal networks composed of functionally inter-connected circuits. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 98, 2015.

Massobrio P, Tessadori J, Chiappalone M, and Ghirardi M. In vitro studies of neuronal networks and synaptic plasticity in invertebrates and in mammals using Multi-Electrode Arrays (MEAs). Neural Plasticity, 2015: 196195, 2015.

Tessadori J and Chiappalone M. Closed-loop Neuro-robotic Experiments to Test Computational Properties of Neuronal Networks. Journal of Visualized Experiment, (97), e52341, doi:10.3791/52341, 2015.

Bisio M*, Bosca A*, Pasquale V, Berdondini L, and Chiappalone M. Emergence of bursting activity in connected neuronal sub-populations. PloS One, 9(9): e107400, 2014. *Equal Contribution.

Korotchenko S*, Cingolani LA*, Kuznetsova T*, Bologna LL, Chiappalone M, Dityatev A. Modulation of network activity and induction of homeostatic synaptic plasticity by enzymatic removal of heparan sulfates. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 369(1654): 20140134, 2014. *Equal Contribution.

Martens MB, Chiappalone M, Schubert D, and Tiesinga PHE. Separating burst from background spikes in multichannel neuronal recordings using return map analysis. International Journal of Neural Systems, 24: 1450012, 2014.

Le Feber J, Stoyanova I, and Chiappalone M. Quantification and modulation of excitability in neuronal networks. Physical Biology, 11: 036005, 2014.

Colombi I, Mahajani S, Frega M. Gasparini L*, and Chiappalone M*. Effect of antiepileptic drugs on hippocampal neurons coupled to Micro-Electrode Arrays. Frontiers in Neuroengineering 6: 10, 2013. *Equal Senior Contribution.

Benfenati V*, Toffanin S*, Bonetti S, Turatti G, Pistone A, Chiappalone M, Sagnella A, Stefani A, Generali G, Ruani G, Saguatti D, Zamboni R, and Muccini M. A transparent organic transistor structure for bidirectional stimulation and recording of primary neurons. Nature Materials, 12: 672-680, 2013. *Equal Contribution.

BonifaziP*, Difato F*, Massobrio P*, Breschi GL, Pasquale V, Levi T, Goldin M, Bornat Y, Tedesco M, Bisio M, Kanner S, Galron R, Tessadori J, Taverna S and Chiappalone MIn vitro large-scale experimental and theoretical studies for the realization of bi-directional brain-prosthesesFrontiers in Neural Circuits, 7: 40, 2013. *Equal Contribution.

Tessadori J, Bisio M, Martinoia S, and Chiappalone M. Modular neuronal assemblies embodied in a closed-loop environment: towards future integration of brains and machines. Frontiers in Neural Circuits, 6: 99, 2012.

Zullo L, Chiappalone M, Martinoia S, and Benfenati F. A “spike-based” grammar underlies directional modification in network connectivity: effect on bursting activity and implications for bio-hybrids systems. PLoS ONE, 7: e49299, 2012.

Frega M, Pasquale V, Tedesco M, Marcoli M, Contestabile A, Nanni M, Bonzano L, Maura G, and Chiappalone M. Cortical cultures coupled to Micro-Electrode Arrays: a novel approach to perform in vitro excitotoxicity testing. Neurotoxicology & Teratology, 34: 116-127, 2012.






Center on Aging, Kansas University Medical Center (Kansas City, KS, USA) – invited by Prof. R. J. Nudo. February 4, 2015.
Casa di Cura del Policlinico di Milano
(Milano, Italy) – invited by Prof. M. Corbo. December 15, 2014.
Infoday APRE: 'Università e impresa: cross fertilization tra ricerca e innovazione'
(Modena, Italy). November 11th, 2014.
BRAIN-FETs 2014: 1st 1st Clustering Workshop On Future Emerging Neurotechnologies
(Genova, Italy). October 16-17, 2014.
MERIDIAN Workshop,
a satellite event of the '23rd Annual School on Biomedical Engineering' (Brixen, Italy) – invited by Prof. Milos Nesladek. September 25, 2014.
Center for Neuroscience and Cognitive Systems - CNCS, IIT
(Rovereto, Italy) – invited by Dr L. Battelli. June 17, 2014.
University of Genova -
Department of Informatics, Bioengineering, Robotics and System Engineering, DIBRIS (Genova, Italy) – invited by Dr L. Rosasco. April 16, 2014.
APRE – Agenzia per la Promozione della Ricerca Europea (Rome, Italy) – invited by Dr G. Di Bello. April 10, 2014.
Army Laboratories - ARL Labs (Aberdeen, MD, USA) – invited by Dr M. Griep. April 9, 2014
Technische Universität München, TUM (Munich, Germany) - invited by Prof. W. Hemmert. April 1, 2014.
First International Symposium on Neuromorphic and Non-linear Engineering (Tokyo, Japan). February 20-21, 2013.
Olimpia-ITN Winter school, Imperial College (London, UK). January 20-22, 2014.
San Raffaele Institute (Milan, Italy) – invited by Dr L. Muzio. January 10, 2014.
IV International Symposium on 'Topical Problems of Biophotonics', (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia). July 21-27, 2013.
Neural Engineering Transformative Technology NETT-ITN Summer School, (Nottingham, UK). July 1-6, 2013.
University of Antwerp - Department of Biomedical Sciences, (Antwep, Belgium) - invited by Prof. M. Giugliano. June 13, 2013.
University of Geneva - Medical School (Geneva, Switzerland) - invited by Prof. L. Stoppini. March 7, 2013.
University of Florence - European Laboratory for Non Linear Spectroscopy - LENS (Florence, Italy) - invited by Prof. F. S. Pavone. October 29, 2012.
Axion Biosystems, (Atlanta, Georgia, USA) - invited by Dr J. Ross. October 10, 2012.
GeorgiaTech - Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, (Atlanta, Georgia, USA) - invited by Prof. S. M. Potter. October 9, 2012.
6th Summer School on Neuroengineering ‘Massimo Grattarola’ (Genova, Italy). June 11-15, 2012.
IHCP Systems Toxicology, Joint Research Center (Ispra, Italy) – invited by Dr B. Scelfo. May 16, 2012.
Institute for Nanostructured Materials – ISMN, National Research Council (Bologna, Italy) – invited by Prof. M. Muccini and Dr V. Benfenati. January 23, 2012.



October 2002, Rome (Italy). Finalist of the Italian ‘FOCUS Award 2002’, promoted by the Italian scientific magazine FOCUS, with a project entitled ‘Neuro-electronic approach for in vitro investigations’.

September 2004, Milan (Italy). Winner of the 5th edition of the ‘Design - in Award’ with a project entitled ‘Neuro-electronic solutions for Neuroengineering’.

September 2004, Brixen (Italy).Winner of the Italian ‘PATRON PhD Award’ for the best PhD dissertation in the bioengineering field, assigned by the National Bioengineering Group (GNB).

September 2011. Coordinator of the first funded EU project in the call ‘Future and Emerging Technologies – FET Young Explorers’: success rate: 4.4%. ( and

September 2013. My PhD student Marta Bisio, formerly Master student in my group, won the ‘Brains for Brains 2013’ award (Young Researchers' Computational Neuroscience Award, for the research activities performed during her pre-doctoral studies under my supervision.

February 14, 2014. National Scientific Abilitation as Associate Professor in Bioengineering (09/G2).

October 2014. Winner of the Best Paper Award for the oustanding paper 'Neurophysiology guided single cell optical surgery' by Averna A, Bisio M, Pruzzo G, Chiappalone M, Bonifazi P and Difato F, presented at the 4th Joint Workshop on Computer/Robot Assisted Surgery - CRAS 2014 held on October 14-16, Genova (ITALY).


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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.