• Gruppo Davide De Pietri Tonelli 11788
  • FLUO ISH MiR 124 4080 749x388 © 2016 IIT 5124
  • Adult Neurogensis 4077 749x388 © 2016 IIT 5121
  • E8 A Copy 4079 749x388 © 2016 IIT 5123
  • E14

Our research is focused on noncoding RNAs in neurogenesis.

Neurogenesis is the process of new neuron generation from Neural Progenitor Cells (NPCs). NPCs self-renew and generate committed offspring in a regulated fashion. This regulation is crucial but remains unclear. The balance between quiescence, proliferation, differentiation and fate decision guarantees brain formation, life-long neurogenesis and prevents tumour formation. Understanding NPCs biology has implications for comprehending brain malformations and age-related disorders.

miRNAs are small noncoding RNAs, enriched in the central nervous system, control neuronal differentiation, physiology and survival by regulating gene expression.

Our studies aim to uncover the mechanism of noncoding RNA-dependent control of gene expression in neurogenesis, with the long-term goal to develop a next generation of therapeutics and diagnostics for brain dysfunctions.


Our research activities are divided into two branches:

  • Brain science: The overarching goal of our research is to understand the role played by miRNAs in mammalian brain development and (dys)function.
  • Health: our task is to use small ncRNAs as a technology to develop novel RNA-based drugs for therapy and cell reprogramming. Our projects might have the potential to develop radically new approaches for brain therapy and repair.


Mol.biol. lab; cell cultures facilities (primary neural cells, immortalized lines); induced pluripotent human stem cells lab; histology lab. Access to IIT core facilities: Virus, Nikon center, Animal facility (SPF, individually ventilated cages; Surgery: electroporation, virus injection; behavior rooms; black cages in collaboration with Tecniplast (Italy)). Deep RNA/DNA seq. and RNAi screening facility.



  • Microtechnology for Neuroelectronics (L. Berdondini) lab-on-chip read-outs for genetic models of human neural disorders
  • CGS@SEMM, Milan (F. Nicassio), RNA profiling in Neurogenesis
  • Polymers and Biomaterials (N.Tirelli) Nanomaterials for RNA delivery in brain
  • Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine (P. Decuzzi) Polymeric nanostructures for RNA delivery in brain

National and International

  • Prof. Dr. Gerd Kempermann, Director, CRTD and Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE), Dresden, Germany. Topic: Adult Neurogenesis
  • Prof. Dr. Wieland B. Huttner, Director, Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biol and Genetics, Dresden, Germany. Topic: Embryonic Neurogenesis

Industrial collaborations

  • Tecniplast Spa, Buguggiate, VA, Italy.


  • EU-REA, Marie Curie Actions (MCA) Call: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-RG. TITLE: NEUROGENESIS IN 22Q11.2 DELETION SYNDROME: ROLE OF microRNAs. ACRONYM: MIRNAS/22Q11DS. Project Budget, 100.000 Euros. Project duration 2011-2015.
  • FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF. Acronym: “ASTROCLOCK”; Title “Astrocyte regulation of circadian behaviour”. Project Budget: 241.567 €; Project Duration: 2014 – 2016.
  • AIRC - Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro. Title: Stimuli-Responsive Nanoparticles for eradicating different subsets of cancer cells within tumors. Collaborator; Project Budget 180.000 €; Project Duration 02/01/2014-01/01/2017.
  • Fondazione CARIPLO, Call 2015 “Biomedical research on ageing-related diseases”. Title “Role of the astrocyte-mediated circadian clock in neurodegeneration and brain aging”. Co-Prinipal investigator. Project Budget 349,650 €. Project duration 2016-2020
  • AIRC - Investigator Grant. Title: Differentiation therapy for GBM through synergic action of 11 miRNAs/drugs delivered via lipid/polymeric nanoparticles. Project Budget 599.610 €. Project Duration 2018-2022


  • Process and device for the determination of alterations in neuronal connectivity and/or morphology; 2015-02-19 | patent PAT: US 20150051109 A1
  • Composizione farmaceutica di miRNA e suoi usi terapeutici. Depositato all’ufficio brevetti Italiano Sept.,19th 2016. Rif IIT PT160330; n. 102016000093825