Sapienza’s Department of Human Neurosciences was established by combining the Department of Neurological Sciences and the Department of Psychiatric Sciences and Psychological Medicine. In spite of its name, which only refers to Neurology (MED 26) and Psychiatry (MED 25), the Department also includes Neurosurgery (MED 27), Neuroradiology (MED 37), Child Neuropsychiatry (MED/39) and Clinical Psychology (M-PSI 08).
Sapienza’s Department of Human Neuroscience (previously the Department of Neurological Science and subsequently the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry) includes the following disciplines: Neurology (MED 26), Psychiatry (MED 25), Neurosurgery (MED 27), Neuroradiology (MED 37), Child Neuropsychiatry (MED/39) and Clinical Psychology (M-PSI 08).
The Department of Human Neuroscience, established in 1983, boasts a long and glorious tradition that began a century earlier with Ezio Sciamanna in 1883 and continued in 1905 with Giovanni Mingazzini, who became the first Director of the original clinic, the Clinic of Nervous and Mental Diseases, in 1921. One of Mingazzini’s students, Sante De Sanctis, was the first doctor to become a Professor of Psychology and founded the current Institute of Psychology and Child Neuropsychiatry in Italy in the 1920s. The Institute of Psychology was subsequently directed by Leandro Canestrelli and then by Renato Lazzari who, together with Giuseppe Donini and Franco Ferracuti, founded the Department of Psychiatric Sciences and Psychological Medicine, which later merged into the current Department of Human Neuroscience. The Department of Child Neuropsychiatry was directed by Giovanni Bollea and later by Pietro Benedetti and Gabriel Levi. Beginning in the 1930s, a large part of the Department’s activity was also carried out in the Clinic of Nervous and Mental Diseases, with the following noteable figures : Ugo Cerletti, Director from 1935 to 1951 and inventor of electroshock together with Lucio Bini, as well as Bruno Callieri and Mario Gozzano in the fifties.
In the second half of the twentieth century, progress was made regarding the diversification of activity in various disciplines: 1968, Neurosurgery (Beniamino Guidetti); 1969, Psychiatry (Giancarlo Reda); 1980, Mental Hygiene (Luigi Frighi); and 1981, Neurophysiopathology (Gianfranco Ricci). In the 1970s and 1980s, influential figures who worked in the Department included Professors Cornelio Fazio, Alessandro Agnoli, Cesare Fieschi, Mario Manfredi, Gian Luigi Lenzi, and Neri Accornero in Neurology, Professor Gianfranco Ricci in Neurophysiopathology, Professors Gaspare Vella and Paolo Pancheri in Psychiatry, and Professor Giampaolo Cantore and Aldo Fortuna in Neurosurgery. In 1990, the activities of the Department were further diversified with the introduction of Neuroradiology (Prof. Luigi Bozzao). From its establishment in 1983, the Department has been directed by Professors Carlo Cavallotti, Giampaolo Cantore, Guido Palladini, Cesare Fieschi, Massimiliano Prencipe, and Giorgio Cruccu. The Institute of Child Neuropsychiatry was part of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Neuropsychiatry until 2017. It has therefore contributed to the establishment of the Department of Human Neuroscience. The Department coordinators include Prof. Leuzzi for clinical research activities and Prof. Guidetti for the Specialisation School. Since 2018 the Department of Human Neuroscience has been directed by Prof. Alfredo Berardelli.
The main location of the Department is on Viale dell’università 30. Other locations are also present in the Policlinico Umberto I university hospital campus (Neurosurgery), inside the Città Universitaria (Clinical Psychology), on Via dei Sabelli, and at the "Giovanni Bollea" Institute (Child Neuropsychiatry). In addition, the Emergency Neurovascular and Neurological Treatment Unit is located in the Policlinico Umberto I university hospital campus (in the DAI A&E).
The current members of the Department, the teachers of the disciplinary sectors MED 25, MED 26, MED 27, MED 37, MED 39, MED 46, MED 48, BIO/13, M/PSI-01, and M/PSI-08 belong to the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy and the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry of Sapienza University of Rome. As of 31/12/2017, 56 professors belong to the Department (9 full professors, 16 associate professors, 26 researchers on permanent contracts, two researchers on fixed-term contracts (Type B), and three researchers on fixed-term contracts (type A). The Department also includes four highly-trained professionals, 31 administrative staff members, two library staff members, 28 technical-scientific staff members, and 60 social/healthcare staff members.
The Department is nationally and internationally renowned as one of the best clinical centres, as well as for its teaching and research activities in the field of neurology, neurosurgery, and human neuroscience. In this context, Child Neuropsychiatry is the largest Italian institution dedicated to the study of neurologic and psychiatric pathologies with a pediatric onset. The Institute also acts as a hub, providing relevant and ongoing training activity for all child neuropsychiatric centres in the Lazio region.
The clinical activity of the Department is centred on the diagnosis and treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases in adults and children. The clinical activity takes place in neurophysiological, neurosurgical, psychiatric, and child neuropsychiatric hospital wards. The Department also includes neurological and psychiatric day-hospitals and general outpatient clinics for various disciplines. The research activity carried out by the Department has played an important role in the development of highly specialised centres in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, and clinical psychology. Other centres have also been established for the study of diseases characterised by movement disorders, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and pain, as well as for the study of rare peripheral nervous system diseases, rare central nervous system diseases, dementia, and headache. Furthermore, the Emergency Neurovascular and Neurological Treatment Unit is a hub reference centre in the Lazio region's stroke network, a role which is also carried out using a telemedicine system. In the psychiatric area, there are outpatient clinics dedicated to psycho-oncology, post-partum psychiatric disorders, and eating behaviour disorders. There is also a Psychiatric Service for Diagnosis and Treatment for the hospitalisation of adult patients who suffer from psychiatric illnesses. Child Neuropsychiatry is a clinical reference centre, as well as a centre of clinical and basic research on the aforementioned disorders with a pediatric-onset (0-18 years), and for over 100 rare neurologic pediatric-onset diseases. Furthermore, since January 2008, Child Neuropsychiatry has been accredited by the Lazio region as the clinical reference centre for 42 rare metabolic diseases that are subject to newborn screening.
As regards the psychiatric area within the Institute of Child Neuropsychiatry, it is a clinical and research reference structure for developmental disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorders. This structure is also specialised in adolescent psychiatric pathology, with an outpatient clinic, day hospital, psychiatric ward, and emergency psychiatric ward (suicidal conduct, mood disorders, psychotic episodes), and has been approved by the region as a regional hub, which is now in progress.
The Department of Human Neuroscience encourages the growth of students graduating from the five Masters Programmes in Medicine and Surgery, of residents specialising in Neurology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Child Psychology, and Neuropsychiatry, and of students of the Health Professions by ensuring a comprehensive education that includes lectures, professional training activities and tutoring, seminars, Advanced Training Courses, and Professional Master Courses. Training is focused on teaching specific practical skills in the clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic fields and as well as central and peripheral nervous system functions, the main clinical characteristics of diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system,
and the main diagnostic techniques (clinical and instrumental) and therapeutic approaches to the aforementioned pathological conditions, with respect for the protection of privacy. Education is also aimed at transmitting the medical-legal implications inherent in the profession. Training consists of lectures, seminars, and practical activities with a tutor for the gradual and progressive acquisition of diagnostic skills, including the use of specific instrumental methods and advanced therapies in specialised fields. For teaching purposes, teachers of the Department of Human Neuroscience have also participated in writing the following texts: La Neurologia della Sapienza (Berardelli A., Cruccu G.) and Lezioni di Neuroradiologia (Bozzao L., Colonnese C., Pantano P., Bozzao A., Fantozzi L.M.).
In the field of research, the Department of Human Neuroscience has ensured an ongoing scientific production which is at the forefront in terms of innovation, modernity, and technological advancement. The scientific activity of the Department consists of numerous clinical and translational activities and is divided into multiple medical and surgical disciplines concerning adult and childhood pathologies. The Department of Human Neuroscience performs its activities by coordinating, promoting, and carrying out research on a broad range of pathologies (from those with a high incidence rate, complexity, and care, such as stroke, to those with a high diagnostic complexity, such as rare diseases). To this end, the Department of Human Neurosciences promotes in-depth departmental collaborations, as well as collaborations with other national and international centres, as evident by its numerous scientific publications. The Department has also promoted numerous scientific events of national importance since 1911, the year in which it organised the Congress of the Italian Society of Neurology (3rd national congress). This activity has continued over the years in diverse disciplinary fields, and in 2018 the Congress of the Italian Society of Neurology was once again held in Rome by Prof. Berardelli and his collaborators.