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PP2 - SISSA - International School for Advanced Studies - Laboratory of Prion Biology

SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies), Neuroscience Department, Prion Biology Laboratory


SISSA is one of the leading scientific institutions in Italy for postgraduate training in Mathematics, Neuroscience and Physics. There are thirteen Ph.D. courses available, covering the three main research areas, three professional master courses and, thanks to an agreement with University of Trieste and University of Trento, three joint curricula for master degrees (laurea magistrale) in Mathematics, Physics and Neurosciences. Besides being a school, SISSA is also an international research center with financial support granted by private and public entities ( Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, Italian Government and European Research Council).
The Neuroscience Department (hereafter Department) is built on Cognitive Neuroscience, which focuses on how the brain generates behavior (language, perception, action) using methods from artificial neural networks to human neuropsychology. Another component of the Department , focusing on Genomics and Neurobiology, studies genomics, genetic, cellular, molecular, and developmental neuroscience. The Prion Biology Laboratory is within the Genomics branch of the Department.


Within the Prion Biology Lab: Biosafety Level 2 Laboratory with cell culture room; protein expression and purification equipment.
Accessible core facilities in the Genomics branch of the Department: animal facility carrying transgenic animals; histology room; DNA sequencing; confocal microscopy; Real-Time PCR and Affymetrics micro-array platforms.
Outside SISSA: due to the close proximity to both the CNR-IOM and ELETTRA−National Synchrotron Light Source Facility, structural studies using TEM, AFM, SR-IRMS, Xray crystallography, SR-XRF, SAXS fiber diffraction and other technologies are feasible.


A variety of research groups are active in in the Department, spanning Cognitive Neuroscience, aimed at understanding how the brain produces behavior, and Neurobiology, investigating the molecular, cellular and integrative mechanisms at work in the nervous system.
Cognitive neuroscientists focus on functions expressed by an entire system, where the system may be a baby learning to speak or a population of neurons storing a new memory. The observation of brain-lesioned patients, the recording of neuronal activity, whether at the level of neurons or by imaging the whole brain, and the analysis of mathematical models all contribute to the same goal. One line of research uses innovative technology to learn how language and reasoning processes are acquired by the newborn. Another direction investigates how knowledge, memories, and the programs for motor control are stored in the adult, as revealed by the effects of localized cortical lesions.
Neurobiologists seek to explain the underlying processes that ultimately account for behavior and for its dysfunction at the level of molecules, cells, networks and integrated systems. To carry out such complex studies, a variety of experimental approaches and scientific disciplines are required, ranging from mathematics and physics to biology. To understand how the brain carries out its functions, we need to understand the properties of nerve cells and the way in which they encode and transmit information. One specialized division of the Neurobiology area, the Genomics branch, is devoted to the study of neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer, Parkinson, Huntington and prion disease) and regeneration after injury.
The focus of the Prion Biology Laboratory is studying prion diseases, rare and fatal neurodegenerative maladies that affect humans and animals for which there is no diagnostic tool, nor a cure.  The main research lines of the lab are: therapy of prion disease, physiology of the prion protein, syntethic prions and molecular determinant to infectivity, structural biology and biophysics of the prion protein, transcriptomics and neurodegeneration, molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration.


Prion, prion protein, CNS, neurodegeneration, genomics.


International School for Advanced Studies - Laboratory of Prion Biology
  Giuseppe Legname
SISSA via Bonomea 265 34136 TRIESTE Italy