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Cell and Developmental Biology

Research groups in the Unit of Cell and Developmental Biology share a common interest in exploring the mechanisms underlying the coordinated interactions of molecules, cells and tissues to form living organisms. They combine genetic, biochemical, molecular, cellular and nanotechnology approaches to investigate fundamental biological events.

This Unit seeks to understand, in particular, the biology and function of the nervous system at multiple levels of analysis. Researchers focus their interest on aspects of developmental and cellular neurobiology ranging from molecular mechanisms, intercellular signaling, gene expression, neuronal commitment, to the organization of cells into structurally and functionally integrated circuits.

Different research groups use a variety of experimental models, from frog, fish to mammals, including mouse and human stem cell systems, and exploit the power of genetics and innovative methods to investigate pivotal issues in contemporary developmental and cellular neurobiology. The Unit also has strong interest in disease, dysfunction and repair of the nervous system, and in connecting innovative basic research to translational medicine and nanomedicine.

Research lines are:

  • Eye and retina differentiation
  • Epigenetic regulation of brain development and differentiation
  • Neural crest development and differentiation
  • The study of mechanotransduction of the axonal growth
  • Development of nano-therapeutics for the posterior eye segment
  • Use of zebrafish embryos as Avatar for approaches of personalized medicine
  • How neural stem cells generate distinct types of neurons in the cerebral cortex
  • Human pluripotent and neural stem cell models to investigate the mechanisms of neurodevelopment, evolution and disease
  • Zebrafish models to study healthy and pathological brain aging
  • CRISPR-CAS9 and omics approaches to unveil new players in embryonic and adult neurogenesis
  • Study of the role of serotonin in development and function of the central nervous system
  • Mapping the structural and functional connectome in animal models of autism
  • Use of gene editing for the generation of animal models of human diseases

The Research Unit Personnel is involved in the following teaching activities for the Department of Biology:
I Level Degree:

  • Comparative Anatomy
  • Cell Biology (Module of the Animal and Cell Biology Course)
  • Citology (Module of General Biology)
  • Molecular Biology (Biological Sciences)
  • Molecular Biology (Biotechnologies)
  • Cellular Biotechnologies
  • Citology and Histology
  • Developmental Biology

II Level Degree

  • Advanced Cell Biology
  • Advanced Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Biology 2
  • Post Genomic Molecular Biology
  • Development and Differentiation of the Nervous System
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanotechnology for Neurosciences
  • Neural Stem Cells
  • Stem Cells and Neural Stem Cells
  • Transgenic Models and Molecular Methods For Neurosciences

Personnel of the Unit:

Full Professor:

Prof. Luciana Dente
Prof. Massimo Pasqualetti

Associate Professor:

Prof. Massimiliano Andreazzoli
Prof. Ugo Borello
Prof. Michela Ori
Prof. Vittoria Raffa
Prof. Robert Vignali

Assistant Professor:

Dr. Marco Onorati (RTD-B)
Dr. Martina Giannaccini (RTD-A)

Techical and Administrative Staff:

Mrs. Guglielma De Matienzo
Mr. Corrado de Petris
Mr. Salvatore Di Maria
Dr. Elena Landi
Dr. Silvia Marracci
Dr. Davide Martini
Dr. Sara Migliarini
Mrs. Gabriella Sbrana

S.S. 12 Abetone e Brennero, 4 I-56127 Pisa
Tel. 050-2211480
Fax 050-2211495