Institute of neuroscience (IN)


The Institute of Neuroscience of the National Research Council is a first rate institution in the field of Neuroscience in Europe and the world over. It gathers many of the most important Italian scientists involved in the study of the brain and the nervous system, their functions, development and pathologies. Based in Pisa, the Institute is organized in research groups, located in Milan, Padua and Cagliari.
Every year, the Institute of Neuroscience publishes a large number of papers in international journals, including high-impact journals like NATURE, SCIENCE and NEURON.
The Institute of Neuroscience of the National Research Council faces all the principal topics in the study of the nervous system, investigating the development and plasticity of the nervous circuitery; vision and cognitive sciences; the mechanisms of memory and learning; as well as those involving cellular transmission and neuronal communication; calcium homeostasis, apoptosis; neuro-muscular and neuronal-glia interactions, neurobiological bases of alcoholism and drug dependence.
With the aim of preventing pathologies, and taking care of human health, the Institute of Neuroscience carries researches on the regeneration of the central nervous system and on skeletal muscle, on muscular distrophies and on the functional imaging of cerebral activity. All these topics are faced with a wide range of advanced technologies, which include cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, neuropharmacology, neurochemistry, genetics, behavioral studies, psychophysics, neuroinformatics and brain imaging. In several cases, particular methods and original apparatuses are specifically designed, to face unsolved problemsin a new way . All these features grant to the Institute of Neuroscience a great level in the international context, qualifying the Institute as one of the most important for advanced formation in the field of neuroscience.

The Institute of Neuroscience of the National Research Council began its activity in the year 2001, with the fusion of seven CNR laboratories and it is presently composed by the following sections: Milan, Padua, Pisa,Rome and Cagliari.
The principal topics of research carried out in the various home-place are:
· Cellular and molecular aspects of neural communication
· Cellular mechanisms of neural plasticity
· Mechanisms which maintain neural polarity
· Regulation of molecolar expression in nervous transmission
· Interactions between glia and neurons
· Models and bioinformatics

· Coupling excitation-contraction: homeostasis of calcium in muscular cells
· Contractile and cytoskeletal systems in muscular tissues
Nervo-muscular interactions. Identification of mechanisms by which electrical and contractile activity - induced by nerve - regulates gene expression in muscular fibers.
· Development og muscular tissues. Muscular regeneration.
· Differentiation of the various types of muscular fibers.
Neuromuscular pathology. Ischemic and apoptic effects in neuromuscular tissues
Structure and dynamics of biologic membranes, mechanisms of mitocondrial transport, pores and macromolecular transport.
· Ca2+ channels, homeostasis of intracellular calcium.
· Ossidative stress: mechanisms and physiopathology
· Phospho-dephosphorilation proteic processes and their regulatory meaning
· Study of cellular distribution and of the effects of prionic proteins
· Action mechanism of proteic neurotoxins

· Study of Alzheimer disease
· Statistical modelling of functional and cognitive status
· National register of Dementia cases
· National register of Bone Fractures in the elderly
· Neuropathies

3. Home-place of NEUROPHYSIOLOGY (Pisa):
· Development of the visual system; visual cortical plasticity
· Apoptosis
· Regeneration of the central nervous system
· Anatomical and functional organization of the visual system
. In vivo and in vitro models of CNS pathological conditions
Visual function in physiological conditions and in neural pathologies: psychophysics, electrophysiology and brain imaging

a. Neurophysiological and molecular mechanisms in learning and memory processes
b. Animal models for the study of the effects of neonatal stress
c. Neurophysiological mechaniusms and pharmacology of nociceptives processes

5. Home-place on NEUROBIOLOGY OF ADDICTIONS (Cagliari):
- Neurobiologival bases of alcoholism
- Neurobiologival bases of drug addition
- Mechanism of action of psychostimulants
- Role of GABA receptor neurotransmission in the pharmacology of epilepsy

Each line of research has a prevalent development in the indicated home-place. However, since the first year of its life, coordination has been strongly potentiated in the Institute of Neuroscience and presently, many lines of research involve collaborations between the home-place. Moreover, in order to promote new collaborations among the various Sections, a yearly scientific meeting has been organized since 2000, and the constitution of commun high quality laboratories and services is being discussed. The constitution of an Advanced School for Neuroscience is also planned, as the formation of young scientists is very important for the future of the Institute of Neuroscience. ALL THESE ACTIVITIES CRITICALLY DEPEND ON ADEQUATE FUNDING FROM THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL for the potentiation of the Institute of Neuroscience.
The Institute of Neuroscience is not a purely administrative structure to comply to law. On the contrary, it has begun a great scientific and cultural operation both in Italy and abroad. The Laboratories of the Institute of Neuroscience are well qualified in their field of investigation and pursue lines of research which are one another complementary. From the fusion of these laboratories, the expected outcome is to have new sinergies and possibilities of development, as the present data indicate for the future. The enlargement of the themes of research and of technological perspectives make the Institute of Neuroscience highly competitive in Europe and all over the world. At national level, the Institute of Neuroscience is an important point of aggregation with other forces, operating in the field of neuroscience. In this respect, the Institute of Neuroscience has already received requests from very important institutions, as SISSA (Trieste), Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa). The possibility of synergies in research, which derive from open and interactive laboratories, is already a positive experience in Europe and it has recently been proposed even in the United States of America. We are convinced that with the financial help the Italian National Research Council, this initiative will be successful.

The Institute of Neuroscience is the result of the fusion of seven laboratories of the National Research Council. These laboratories were internationally considered centers of excellence for research in neuroscience. The researchers of the Institute of Neurosciences are involved in many international research projects, collaborate with important research institutions and are in contact with clinical équipes in Italy and abroad. The results of the research activity of the Institute of Neuroscience are published in the most important international journals.

Thanks to the already existent collaboration amongst the Sections, their potentiation and a series of common initiatives in formation and research, the Laboratories assure a harmonious whole, where research activity, carried out in the Institute of Neuroscience, maintains high standard international levels, reached by the single institutions, which are presently joined together. Section distribution of the Institute of Neuroscience in the Italian soil allows preservation of a close net of local collaborations, sharing competence and apparatuses, beyond active participation in university in post-university formation.

In its laboratories, the Institute of Neuroscience organizes high formation teaching activity, both for students and for postdoctoral fellows. Thanks to its technical and scientific competences, and to the available instrumentations, the Institute of Neuroscience, as a whole, guarantees high standard formation, reached only by a few other international institutions. Moreover, the Institute of Neuroscience has a lot of scientific collaborations with prestigious advanced research institutions in Europe and in the United States of America. The Institute of Neuroscience collaborates for student formation with many and prestigious national institution, as Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), SISSA (Trieste)..... and with many important industries.

In its laboratories, the Institute of Neuroscience carries out advanced research for understanding the mechanisms which regulate cerebral functions, the development and regeneration of the nervous system. Other fields of research are devoted to understand how nerve cells and neural circuits work, in normal and clinical physiology. From these research activities, we expect important advancements in basic knowledge and direct applicability on many sectors of great social and economic impact, as:
· neurotoxicity
· neurovegetative diseases
· autoimmune nervous diseases
· ageing
· diagnosis and monitoring of embryo cerebral malformations
· nervous regeneration
· functional recover after nervous lesions
· nervo-muscular interaction mechanisms and activity dependent genic regulation
· early diagnosis of nervous diseases
· apoptosis
· memnory and learning
. alcoholism and drug addiction

In the course of their research activity, the institutions of the National Research Council, now part of the Institute of Neuroscience, have already obtained important results in basic research, from which originated high relevance social and economic applications.
Amongst them:
development of pattern evoked potential, which is presently used as a primary diagnostic tool in clinical ophthalmology for functional diseases of the visual system. These technologies come from the study of mechanisms which are involved in visual information at visual cortical level;
kits for diagnosis and control of neuromuscular diseases and of neuroendocrine tumors
mutation identification responsible for some familiar forms of nephrogenic diabetes
· delucidation of pathogenetic mechanisms in epilepsia
rationale for use of nicotinic cholinergic drugs for non-invasive diagnosis and in therapy of Alzheimer disease
· Antibodies and molecular selective probes
Typization of scheletric muscular fibers: identification of e new type of muscular fiber and type-specific markers
Development of protocols of electrical stimulation for adapting scheletric muscle to new function, for example cardiomyoplastic.Identification, preclinical characterization, and initial phases of the clinical surveys of a pharmacotherapy for alcoholism.

The important contributions to applied and clinical fields derived from the results obtained by the Sections of the Institute of Neuroscience indicate the originality, the innovation and the potentials of the research carried out in the Institute. They also provide a clear example of the unique value in economical and social terms that basic research represents in the field of Neuroscience.