Luciano Conti

Via Sommarive, 9 - 38123 Povo
tel. 0461 285216
luciano.conti[at]unitn [dot] it
  • 1995. Ph.D degree in Biology at the Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy
  • 1994 to 2001. Research fellow in the laboratory leaded by Prof. Elena Cattaneo, Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy
  • 2001. Research Doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology applied to the Biomedical sciences at the University of Brescia, Italy.
  • 2001-2004. Postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Austin Smith's lab, Institute for Stem Cell Research, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Carriera accademica ed attività didattica
  • 2005 - September 2013. Assistant professor of Pharmacology, Dept. of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
  • October 2013 – September 2014. Assistant professor of Pharmacology at the Centre for Integrative Biology (CIBIO), Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy.
  • October 2014 – present. Associate professor of Applied Biology at the Centre for Integrative Biology (CIBIO), Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy.
Interessi di ricerca

His research has been directed toward the understanding of mechanisms regulating the self-­‐renewal and differentiation of neural  stem/progenitors  cells  of  brain (Conti, Nat.  Rev. Neurosci.  2010; Conti, TINS 2005). He has worked to the definition of the role of ShcA/C adaptor molecules in controlling the transition from proliferating neural precursors to mature neurons in the brain (Conti, PNAS 2007; Conti, Nature Neuroscience 2001; Ponti, Neurocience 2005 and 2010) and in brain tumors (Cattaneo, Anticancer Res. 1998; Magrassi, Oncogene 2005). A role for these molecules has been also enlightened in ES cells neuralization processes (Papadimou, MCN 2009). He has participated to studies that have defined a new role for BDNF and REST in a Huntington's Disease (Zuccato, Science 2001; Zuccato, Nature Genetics 2003). He has experience with immortalized neural precursors (Conti, JNR 1998; Ehrlich, Exp. Neurology 2002) neurosphere system and recently he has optimized the conditions for the generation of a novel population of neural stem cells with radial  glia-­‐like  characteristics  (Conti,  PLoS  Biol.  2005; Pollard  &  Conti,  Progress  in  Neurob.  2007).  This population has been  named  “NS”  cells  and  displays  improved  homogeneity   and  enhanced  long-­‐term neuronal  differentiation  potential  (Goffredo,  CCD 2008;  Spiliotopoulos,  NBD 2009).  He has shown  that is possible to derive  NS  cells  from  mouse  ES  cells  (Conti,  PLoS  Biol.  2005;  Diaferia,  Stem  cells  &  Development 2011), human (Sun, MCN 2009) and mouse brain tissue (Pollard, Cer. Cortex 2006; Onorati, Mol. & Cell. Life Sci. 2010) and that this system can represent a exploitable tool for grafting (Brilli, Stem Cells and Development 2013), gene function (Cardano, JBC 2011; Paina, J. of Neurosci. 2011) and toxicological studies (Negri-­‐Cesi, J. Steroid. Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2008).

In the last  years, his research interest has included:

  • the optimization of protocols for the generation of human forebrain neuronal subtypes from hiPSCs
  • the generation of hiPSCs for disease modelling
  • the obtainement of glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) and the analysis of the molecular network regulated by the transcriptional repressor REST in the control of GSCs self-­‐renewal and tumorigenic competence (Conti, PLoS One 2012).
Attività di ricerca

Research activity in the lab is directed toward the understanding of mechanisms regulating self-renewal, fate decision and neuronal maturation of NSCs. In particular we are dissecting the roles of specific signal transduction molecules and transcription factors in the molecular circuitries that control the physiologic maintenance of normal NSCs and their specific alteration underlying tumorigenesis processes and neurodevelopmental diseases. The final aims are to exploit this knowledge in order to develop molecular and cellular tools for prospect cellular and pharmacological therapeutic interventions in the diseased brain. We pursue these goals by using both mammalian neural tissues and neuralizing processes applied to human and mouse pluripotent stem cell systems. We routinely combine a variety of techniques and tools to conduct our research including in vitro culture of mouse and human NSCs and pluripotent stem cells, molecular biology, biochemistry and cell-based assays.

There are currently three major areas of interest in the lab:

  • Explore the molecular mechanisms that regulate pluripotent stem cells developmental-relevant conversion into specific NSC populations and their neuronal subtype specification and functional maturation. Defined stage- and region-specific NSC populations are generated in a coordinate fashion during brain development and following neural induction protocols applied to pluripotent stem cells. We aim at disclosing the molecules important for the induction and stable maintenance of specific NSC populations characterized by high developmental plasticity (i.e. the potential to generate a wide range of neuronal subtypes) and to develop protocols for achieving their appropriate neuronal maturation.
  • Modelling human brain disorders with iPS cells and NSCs in order to understand the molecular mechanisms of diseases, disclose pathological-relevant phenotypes and develop drug screening platforms. Our aim is to model human brain diseases by reprogramming patient-derived somatic cells with neurodevelopmental diseases. The iPS cell lines are subjected to differentiation into patient-specific NSCs and disease-relevant neurons and are interrogated in order to disclose the molecular mechanisms causing and/or driving the particular disease. To this end, assays monitoring self-renewal and differentiation potential, as well as the function of neuronal subtypes are used.
  • Identify molecular determinants that control maintenance and tumorigenic competence of Brain Tumor Stem cells (BTSCs) in order to develop target therapies directed to the malignant stem cell component. Our focus here is on Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive human brain tumor. We have generated BTSC lines from human GBM biopsies and we are currently investigating the role of specific transcription factors in the maintenance of self-renewal and tumorigenic competence of these cells. The aim is to define new potential targets for the development of new brain tumor therapeutics.
Appartenenza a società e comitati scientifici

Member of:

  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
  • Italian Society of Neuropsychopharmacology (SIN)
  • ABCD (Associazione di Biologia Cellulare e del Differenziamento)
  • AIBG (Associazione Italiana di Biologia e Genetica)
Premi e riconoscimenti
  • 2001              Premio Bruno Ceccarelli for Young Neuroscientist Award for studies on Neurosciences
  • 2002              Award from Società Italiana di Farmacologia (SIF) for Young Investigator (under 35).
  • 2005              Award from the Italian Cell Culture Association
  • 2008              PUR Award for Young Investigators (under 38) awarded by Università degli Studi di Milano
  • 2009              Premio Ricercatissimi, Award from the Regione Lombardia.
Convegni e conferenze
  • He has held 24 seminars as invited speaker at Italian and international Universities.
  • Invited speaker at 13 national and 22 international congresses.
Altre attività
  • 2008-today. Associate Editor, European Journal of Neuroscience
  • 2012-today. Associate Editor, BMC Neuroscience