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Ilaria Tonazzini


tel. +39 050 509434

ilaria.tonazzinisns .it


• Neuroguide project page

• NeuroSens group @CNRnano


Istituto Nanoscienze CNR @ NEST
Piazza San Silvestro 12
56127 Pisa, Italy

Running projects

Marie Curie IF Project: Study of neuronal sensing and migration/guidance dynamics in neurodevelopmental disorders by nano-engineered chips (NEUROGUIDE).
I am interested in the study of neuronal sensing and guidance dynamics in patho-physiological conditions. To study cell environmental sensing, one promising approach exploits nano/micro-structured systems, which allow us to finely control the properties of the extracellular environment in vitro (e.g. mimicking ECM topographical or biochemical instructions). As a pathological model, I am interested in neurodevelopmental autistic disorders, in particular those related to the ubiquitin protein ligase E3a (Ube3a).

Research interests

My main research interest focuses on nanobiotechnology and its application in neuroscience, working in the borderlands between different disciplines (biochemistry, material sciences, regenerative medicine). I am interested in studying the processes that regulate the adhesion, growth and differentiation of neural cells by means of nano/micro-structured substrates and microfluidic devices. The research activity aims to explore the cell-environment interactions and cytoskeleton dynamics, in order to shed light on the extracellular sensing mechanisms in neuronal cells, both in physiological and pathological conditions.

Biographical sketch

2018-present: Marie Curie Individual Fellow 2017 at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam (NL), associated to Istituto Nanoscienze-CNR Pisa (partner organization in my project).
2015-2017: Fellow of Fondazione Umberto Veronesi, at Istituto Nanoscienze-CNR @NEST, Pisa. Responsible (preposto) for Tissue Culture facilities.
2010-2014: Post-doc position at NEST, Scuola Normale Superiore and Istituto Nanoscienze-CNR, Pisa. Topic: Study of cell/neuronal mechanotransduction by nanostructured substrates, with Dr. M. Cecchini. Responsible for Tissue Culture facilities.
2011: EMBO Short-term fellowship at Dept. Neuroscience, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam (NL), host Prof. Y. Elgersma.
2007-2009: Post-doc position at ISMN-CNR, Bologna, with Prof. F. Biscarini. Topic: organic bio-transistors.
2005-2006: Marie Curie PhD fellowship at the Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience (CMBN), Univ. of Oslo (Norway), with Prof. J. Storm-Mathisen and Dr. L.H. Bergersen.
2005: PhD visiting student at Karolinska Institutet, Dept. Physiology and Pharmacology, Stockholm (Sweden), with Prof. B. Fredholm.
2004-2007: PhD programme in Drug' Science (curriculum Design, development and biological activity of new drugs), Lab. of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Univ. of Pisa; tutor Prof. C. Martini.
1998-2003: University of Pisa, Specialistic Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology (CTF), with emphasis on Biochemistry and Pharmacology, 110/110 cum laude.

Selected publications

• Neuregulin-1 functionalization of organic fibers for Schwann cell guidance. Tonazzini I, Moffa M, Pisignano D, Cecchini M. Nanotechnology 2017, 28, 155303.
• Neuronal mechanisms for nanotopography sensing. Tonazzini I and Cecchini M. Ebook Frontiers in Nanomedicine: Nanomedicine and Neurosciences: Advantages, Limitations and Safety Aspects, Bentham Science Publishers, 2017, 2: 107.
• Lithium improves cell viability in psychosine treated MO3.13 human oligodendrocyte cells via autophagy activation. Del Grosso A, Antonini S, Angella L, Tonazzini I, Signore G, Cecchini M. J Neurosci Res 2016, 94: 1246.
• Impaired neurite contact guidance in Ubiquitin ligase E3a (Ube3a)-deficient hippocampal neurons on nanostructured substrates. Tonazzini I*, Meucci S, Van Woerden GM, Elgersma Y, and Cecchini M. Adv Healthcare Mat 2016, 5: 850.
• Schwann Cell Contact Guidance versus Boundary Interaction in Functional Wound Healing along Nano and Microstructured Membranes. Tonazzini I*, Jacchetti E, Meucci S, Beltram F, Cecchini M. Adv Healthcare Mat 2015, 4: 1849.
• Acoustofluidics and whole-blood manipulation in surface acoustic wave counterflow devices. Travagliati M, Shilton R, Pagliazzi M, Tonazzini I, Beltram F, Cecchini M. Analytical Chemistry 2014, 86: 10633.
• Interaction of leech neurons with topographical gratings: comparison with rodent and human neuronal lines and primary cells. Tonazzini I*, Pellegrini M, Pellegrino M, Cecchini M. Interface Focus 2014, 4: 20130047.
• Interaction of SH-SY5Y cells with nanogratings during neuronal differentiation: comparison with primary neurons. Tonazzini I, Cecchini A, Elgersma Y, Cecchini M. Adv Healthcare Mat 2014, 3: 581.
• Neuronal differentiation on anisotropic nanotopographies: neurite contact guidance tolerance to topographical noise. Tonazzini I*, Meucci S, Faraci P, Beltram F, Cecchini M. Biomaterials, 2013, 34: 6027.
• Nanotopographic control of neuronal polarity. Ferrari A, Cecchini M, Dhawan A, Micera S, Tonazzini I, Stabile R, Pisignano D, Beltram F. Nano Letters, 2011, 11: 505.
• Multiscale morphology of organic semiconductor thin films controls the adhesion and viability of human neural cells. Tonazzini I, Bystrenova E, Chelli B, Greco P, Stoliar P, Calò A, Lazar A, Borgatti F, D’Angelo P, Martini C, Biscarini F. Biophysical Journal, 2010, 98: 2804.
• Neural Networks Grown on Organic Semiconductors. Bystrenova E, Jelitai M, Tonazzini I, Lazar A, Huth M, Stoliar P, Dionigi C, Cacace MG, Nickel B, Madarasz E, Biscarini F. Advanced Functional Materials, 2008, 18: 1751.
• Co-localization and functional cross-talk between A1 and P2Y1 purine receptors in rat hippocampus. Tonazzini I, Trincavelli ML, Storm-Mathisen J, Martini C, Bergersen LH. European Journal of Neuroscience, 2007, 26: 890.

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