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Giuliano Iurilli

Researcher Tenure Track - Principal Investigator

Research Line

Systems Neurobiology


CNCS@UniTn Trento

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Giuliano Iurilli received a M.Sc. in Biological Sciences from the University of Pisa and a PhD in Robotics, Neuroscience and Nanotechnologies from IIT in Genova under the supervision of Paolo Medini (2011). During his PhD, he used in vivo patch-clamp recordings, two-photon imaging and optogenetics to investigate the plasticity of the rodent’s visual cortex and the processing of multisensory inputs in primary sensory cortices of the mouse. After being awarded a Long-Term Fellowship from the Human Frontiers Science Program, he joined for a postdoc the lab of Bob Datta in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School (2012-2018). Here he investigated the rules for processing innately relevant vs neutral olfactory cues in the olfactory cortex of the mouse. To this aim he employed silicon probes for high-density electrophysiological recordings. He also built a two-photon system for performing microendoscopic imaging of deep brain structures and developed novel behavioral tasks for investigating ethological decision-making in mice.

At Harvard Medical School Giuliano was also appointed Head Teaching Assistant for the course "Neurobiology" for Harvard and M.I.T. MD/PhD strudents.

Currently, Giuliano is leading the Armenise-Harvard Systems Neurobiology Lab at the Center for Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences (IIT-CNCS). The IT-CNCS is hosted by the Center for Mind/Brain Science (CIMeC) of the University of Trento.


Neurobiological principles of cognitive processes

Understanding the biological mechanisms that support cognitive processes is key not only to satisfying our scientific curiosity, but also to developing actionable therapeutic strategies. This project searches for the biological principles that inform behavior by means of cutting-edge techniques such as in vivo two-photon imaging of the activity of population of neurons, in vivo high-density electrophysiological recording of hundreds of neurons and in vivo patch-clamp recordings of the synaptic inputs to single neurons in behaving rodents. The project also exploits state-of-the-art optogenetics and pharmacogenetics tools in order to selectively manipulate the activity of genetically-identified neurons and test their causal role in specific behaviors. Finally, the project will develop new tools for analyzing innate and trained behaviors in order to discover and model behavioral rules. Our final goal is to determine how neurobiological principles lawfully constrain behavioral rules.

If you share with us a passion for this problem, feel free to contact me. Master thesis fellowship, PhD and postdoc positions are available. Successful lab members are generous and passionate and have a solid quantitative mindset, keen biological intuition and good programming skills (Matlab and/or Python). Prior wet-lab experience or familiarity with computational modeling is a plus, however it is not required. 

Selected Publications

First author publications

1. Iurilli G.* and Datta S.R.

Population coding in an innately relevant olfactory area

Neuron 93(5) (2017)

2. Olcese U.*, Iurilli G.* and Medini P.

Cellular and synaptic architecture of multisensory integration in mouse neocortex

Neuron 79(3), 579-93 (2013)

3. Iurilli G.*, Olcese U.* and Medini P.

Preserved Excitatory-Inhibitory Balance of Cortical Synaptic Inputs following Deprived Eye Stimulation after a Saturating Period of Monocular Deprivation in Rats

PloS One 8(12):e82044 (2013)

4. Iurilli G.*, Ghezzi D., Olcese U., Lassi G., Tucci V., Nazzaro C., Tonini R., Benfenati F. and Medini P.

Sound-driven synaptic inhibiton in primary visual cortex

Neuron 73(4), 814-28 (2012)

5. Iurilli G.*, Benfenati F. and Medini P.

Loss of visually-driven synaptic responses in layer 4 regular spiking neurons of rat visual cortex in absence of competing inputs

Cerebral Cortex 22(9), 2171-81 (2011)


Other publications

1. Mao Y.T., Zhu J.X., Hanamura K., Iurilli G., Datta S.R. and Dalva M.B.,

Filopodia Conduct Target Selection in Cortical Neurons Using Differences in Signal Kinetics of a Single Kinase

Neuron 98(4) (2018)

2. Wiltschko A.B.*, Johnson M.J., Iurilli G., Peterson R.E., Katon J.M., Pashkovski S.L., Abraira V.E., Adams R.P. and Datta S.R.

Mapping sub-second structure in mouse behavior

Neuron 88(6) (2015)

3. Petrini E.M.*, Ravasenga T., Hausrat T.J., Iurilli G., Olcese U., Racine V., Sibarita J.B., Jacob T.C., Moss S.J, Benfenati F., Medini P., Kneussel M., and Barberis A.

Synaptic recruitment of gephyrin regulates surface GABAA receptor dynamics for the expression of inhibitory LTP

Nature Communications 5:3921, (2014)

4. Blau A.*, Murr A., Wolff S., Sernagor E., Medini P., Iurilli G., Ziegler C. and Benfenati F.

Flexible, all-polymer microelectrode arrays for the capture of cardiac and neuronal signals

Biomaterials 2011 32(7) pp. 1778-86


  • Giovanni Armenise-Harvard Foundation Career Development Award (2019-2024)
  • Leonard and Isabelle Goldenson Postdoctoral Fellow (2018)
  • Human Frontiers Science Program Long-Term Fellow (2013)

Colleagues in Systems Neurobiology See all


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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.