The Neuroscience and Smart Materials group has a well-established experience in the fields of neurophysiology, cellular and molecular neurobiology, optogenetics, bioengineering and computational modeling. Research focuses on two main areas:

  • Brain function and diseases
  • Neurotechnologies for health

According to the vision of the 2018-2022 IIT Strategic Plan, the ‘Neuroscience and Smart Materials’ research directions are within the LifeTech Research Domain and are evolving from fundamental neuroscience to patient-centered technologies in collaboration with clinical research institutes such as the IRCCS Policlinico San Martino, where the activities are located, and the IRRCS Giannina Gaslini Institute. Line activities are also carried on within the Nanomaterials Research Domain by exploiting smart interfaces between nanomaterials (organic electronics, photovoltaic devices, nanosensors and graphene-based compounds) and the nervous tissue, generating innovative hybrid devices and targeting new solutions for therapy of neurological diseases with high translational potential.

Technology Transfer. An important part of the research is devoted to translating technologies to healthcare, particularly in the field of retinal degeneration (Retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration), with preclinical activities regarding the prototypes of artificial retina that are rapidly approaching the first-in-human tests. This very promising line of research generated one US patent, several other patent applications and the imminent start-up On-Iris with the direct participation of IIT and the Istituto Chiossone for the Blind.

High-Level Education. According to the IIT Strategic Plan, the ‘Neuroscience and Smart Materials’ research line devotes particular attention to high-level education by coordinating for the whole IIT-Genova the Curriculum of Neuroscience and Neurotechnologies, within the PhD Course in Neuroscience of the Genova University, by adopting international selection procedures and recruiting Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD fellows within EU ITN projects.


The Neuroscience and Smart Materials research line is hosted by NSYN@Unige, within the IRCCS San Martino University Hospital in Genova. NSYN is provided with state-of-the-art electrophysiology, molecular neurobiology and neurotechnology facilities.

Patch-clamp and conventional electrophysiology: Twelve patch-clamp setups for primary neuron cultures and acute brain slices, five MEA setups and three in vivo physiology setups.

Cell culture: Primary and organotypic cultures, stem cells and viral preparations.

Imaging: Histochemistry and immunocyto/histochemistry; 1 Leica SP8 confocal microscope; 1 Leica TIRF workstation; epifluorescence and chemiluminescence microscopes and Neurolucida system.

Cellular and molecular biology: PCR and real time-PCR machines, phosphoimagers, Biacore SPR, spectrophotometers.

Computation: Modeling and Molecular Dynamics simulations of neuronal proteins.

Animal facility: 300 sqm laboratory area for general services and in vivo laboratories (rodent breeding, surgery, behavior, EEG, octopus maintenance).


Within IIT:

  • Prof. Guglielmo Lanzani, CNST@IIT
  • Prof. Vittorio Pellegrini, Graphene Labs @IIT Genova
  • Dr. Francesco De Angelis, Plasmon Nanotechnologies @IIT Genova
  • Dr. Tiziano Bandiera, D3 Pharmachemistry @IIT Genova
  • Dr. Pier Paolo Pompa, Nanobiointeractions & Nanodiagnostics  @IIT Genova
  • Dt. Athanassia Athanassiou, Smart Materials @IIT Genova
  • Dr. Angelo Bifone, CNCS@UniTn
  • Dr. Barbara Mazzolai, CMBR@IIT

Outside IIT

  • Prof. Paul Greengard, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA
  • Prof. Serge Picaud, Institut de la Vision, Sorbonne University, Paris, France
  • Dr. Grazia Pertile, Department of Ophthalmology, Sacrocuore Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Verona, Italy.
  • Prof. Patrick Cossette, Université de Montréal, CHUM-Hôpital Notre-Dame, Montréal, QC, Canada
  • Prof. Pietro De Camilli, Yale University Medical School, New Haven, CT, USA
  • Dr. Daniel Gitler, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel
  • Dr. Hung-Teh Kao, Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Brown Medical School, Brown, University, Providence, RI, USA
  • Prof. Gudrun Ahnert-Hilger, AG Funktionelle Zellbiologie, Institut fur Integrative Neuroanatomie, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Volker Haucke, Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie, Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Oleg Shupliakov, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Dr. Anita Aperia, SciLifeLab, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Dr. Bernard Poulain, Institute of Neurochemistry, CNRS, Strasbourg, France
  • Dr. Stephanie Baulac, INSERM ICM, Paris, France
  • Prof. Flavia Valtorta, DIBIT, Vita-Salute University S. Raffaele, Milano
  • Dr. Federico Zara, Unit of Human Genetics, Giannina Gaslini Institute, Genova, Italy
  • Dr. Michela Matteoli, Università di Milano, Milano.
  • Prof. Giampietro Schiavo, Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience & Movement Disorders, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK
  • Prof. Laura Ballerini, Scuola Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), Trieste, Italy
  • Prof. Sambuceti of the IRCCS, San Martino Hospital
  • Prof. Binyamin Hochner, Dept. Neurobiology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem Israel
  • Prof. Alexander Dityatev (DZNE, Magdeburg, Germany); project: Repurposing anti-tumorigenic integrin-targeting drugs for brain disorders, in the framework of the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network ECMED.
  • Dr. Gregory Giannone (Institut Interdisciplinaire de NeuroScience, Bordeaux, France); project: Targeting cell adhesion in autism spectrum disorder: new technological approaches and therapeutic opportunities.
  • Prof. Antoine Triller (Institut de Biologie Normale Superieure, Paris, France); project: Synaptic pathology and functional compensation in CaV2.1 deficiency.
  • Dr. Aberto Bianco, Organic Nanomaterials and Delivery, Université de Strasbourg
  • Prof. Ester Vazquez Fernandez-Pacheco, MSOC Nanochemistry Group, Universidad de Castilla la Mancha.
  • Prof. Eero Castren, Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • Prof. Stephane Molotchnikoff, Département de Sciences Biologiques, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada.