Maria Teresa Fiorenza

University position

Professore associato


Positions and Employment-1992 - 1994: pre-doctoral fellow Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Copenhagen University, DK-1995 - 1997: post-doctoral fellow, Dept. of Hystology and Medical Embryology, “La Sapienza” University-1998 - 1999: post-doctoral fellow, Laboratory of Mammalian Genes and Development, National Institute of Child Health and Development, NIH, Bethesda, USA- 1999 - 2004: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Division of Neuroscience, “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy- 2005 - present: Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Division of Neuroscience, Sapienza University of Rome, ItalyHonors- 1992 Marie Curie EU, two-years Fellowship- 1995 Pasteur Institute - Cenci Bolognetti Foundation, two-years Fellowship- 1998 Italian National Research Council (CNR), one-year Fellowship- 1999 Fogarty International, NIH, one-year FellowshipDuring my scientific career I have acquired a solid expertise in molecular and cellular biology, gene expression analysis, basic and advanced biochemistry working as pre- and post-doctoral fellow in various laboratories, both in Europe and USA. In addition to enrich my expertise and skills in several fields of biology, these experiences have also contributed to build-up my self-confidence enormously, thanks to valuable interactions with peers and mentors and stimulating cultural/scientific environments, as well.The wide-ranging training I received allowed me to develop independent thinking skills quite easily and led me to establish novel research activities in my own laboratory. Roughly ten years ago, there has been a significant shift in my field of interest with molecular mechanisms controlling neural development becoming predominant. To address these studies I developed a number of methodological tools and systems, including primary cultures of neural cells and brain slices maintained ex vivo. This represented a relevant milestone since it boosted the interaction and collaboration with other research groups, introducing me to the field of neurodegenerative diseases. Since then, main issues addressed in my laboratory took a great advantage of genetic mouse models of Alzheimer and Niemann Pick C (NPC) diseases. As for the latter, my expertise with mouse cerebellum steered my attention towards the peculiar cerebellar anomalies of this disease. Here, my background in developmental biology offered a wider perspective for addressing unresolved questions, which I have investigated within the framework of a Telethon Foundation grant I was recently awarded. Major findings of this activity are reported in recently peer-review publications, showing that cholesterol dyshomeostasis is responsible for subtle anomalies in developing neurons and glial cells that affect fine motor behavior and largely anticipate the overt appearance of symptoms.

Research theme(s)
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Developmental Neuroscience
Application fields
Neurodegeneration, Treatment development

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