on Tuesday, 28 February 2012. Posted in Consortium

Partner P1: Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia


The Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a government sponsored Foundation created in 2003 to promote excellence in research, technological development and training within a national and international context. IIT has a large international research community with over 500 researchers working on seven synergetic and interdisciplinary platforms: Robotics, Neurosciences, Drug Discovery Development and Diagnostics, Energy, Environment Health Security, Smart Materials, Integrated Multiscale Computational Technology. IIT participates in BRAIN-BOW with the NBT department (about 100 staff members), led by Prof. John Assad and Prof. Fabio Benfenati. NBT has the objective to develop and apply new technologies for the study of the central nervous system, with special reference to the learning and adaptation strategies of the nervous tissue and the integrative relationships between neural molecules, neuronal populations, information coding and processing in the brain.

Role of IIT in the project

IIT will be responsible of the coordination of the project (Dr M. Chiappalone), leading the management and the dissemination WPs (i.e. WP0 and WP7). IIT will be also responsible of two scientific WPs, namely WP2 (Dr M. Chiappalone) and WP6 (Dr S. Taverna). IIT will be involved in (1) setting up the system for performing experiments on the in vitro whole brain and on 2D-3D cultures, in tight collaboration with partner TAU and UNIGE; (2) developing sw tools for the offline analysis of multichannel data of different nature and at different temporal scale; (3) developing and implementing the coding/decoding schemes foreseen in WP3. All these activities will allow to perform the closed-loop experiments involving a biological element and a sw/hw component (WP6).

Key Personnel

Dr Michela Chiappalone (Project Coordinator) graduated in Electronic Engineering (110/110 summa cum laude) in 1999, and the PhD degree in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Genova on June 3rd, 2003. She worked as visiting scholar at the Dept. of Physiology of the Northwestern University (Chicago, IL, USA). After a postdoc at University of Genova, she became senior post-doc at IIT. Her research activity mainly focuses on: (i) neurodynamics, learning and plasticity of cell assemblies; (iii) embodied electrophysiology and BMIs; (iv) algorithms for multichannel analysis. On the above topics she contributed with 33 papers in peer-reviewed International Journals, 70 conf. proceedings, 5 book chapters and 20 invited talks (H-index= 12, 351 citations). It is worth noting that MC had two career breaks in 2005 and 2009 due to the birth of her two sons (cf. birth certificates of the babies in the annex).

Dr Stefano Taverna graduated in biology at the University of Milano, Italy. He obtained his PhD in neuroscience at the Institute for Brain Research in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He then worked as a postdoc fellow at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. Currently he is team leader at IIT where he focuses on the functional properties of brain microcircuits in normal and pathological conditions.

Dr Thierry Nieus holds a degree in Physics from the University of Pavia. He obtained his PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Milan. As a postdoc at the same laboratory he worked in the consortium of the FP6-SpikeForce project. Currently he is postdoc at IIT and works both on biophysical properties underlying information processing of neural cells and the investigation of computational properties of dissociated cell cultures.

Dr Francesco Difato graduated in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Genova, Italy. From 2002 to 2006 he worked at Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and at Charles University in Prague. From 2006 to 2008 he worked at SISSA in Trieste (Italy). In 2008 he received his Ph.D in Virology. Currently, he is postdoc at IIT and his research aims at combining optical tweezers and laser dissector integrated with MEA, for study how neurons react to optically induced mechanical/chemical stresses or spatial localized injuries.

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The BrainBow project acknowledges the financial support of the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme within the Seventh Framework Programme for Research of the European Commission, under FET-Open grant number: FP7-284772.