Neuronal development, function and survival
Our group uses the impressive experimental advantages offered by C. elegans to approach a variety of fundamental biological questions. A major focus of our research is to understand how nervous systems develop, function and react and survive to various insults. We have been interested, for example, in avoidance behavior, which is triggered when animals encounter noxious, toxic or repellent stimuli, either produced by plants (e.g. quinine) or by bacteria (e.g from different habitats or pathogenic).
We also use C. elegans as a model to study in vivo the function played by genes relevant for human health. To this end we have exploited the extensive conservation of the structure and function of genes and of entire pathways from invertebrates to mammals to study human genes functions.
Finally we are using the disease models we developed as a tool in biotechnology to identify and/or validate new molecules capable of slowing down the progression of diseases (e.g Spinal Muscular Atrophy) and to identify chemicals and food contaminants with neurotoxic effects (e.g patulin, chlorpyrifos).
These areas are, however, largely interconnected and overlapping in terms of techniques, results, funding and collaborations.
Start Lab in 2010