Maria Teresa Fiorenza
University positionProfessore associato
DepartmentDipartimento di Psicologia - CRiN
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.