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Neurodevelopmental Biology Lab Head/Group Leader (Unit Neuroscience) at Humanitas Research Center
Harvard University – Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Department
Allen Brain Institute – Next Generation Leader Council Advisor
Education and Academic Background
Simona Lodato obtained her Ph.D. in 2011 from the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM) and the University “Federico II”, in Naples (Italy) under the supervision of Prof. Michéle Studer at the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM). During her Ph.D. training she investigated the intrinsic molecular mechanisms controlling the generation of distinct classes of inhibitory interneurons (IN) of the developing mammalian cerebral cortex.
She then joined the group of Prof. Paola Arlotta at Harvard University in Cambridge (USA) where she shed light on fundamental aspects of the molecular principles that govern the acquisition of distinct subtype-specific projection neuron (PN) identity, focusing in particular on corticospinal motor neurons – CSMN – that degenerate in ALS and in other motor disorders.
She also discovered that the PN identity influences the migration of INs in the developing cortex, controlling the assembly of functional networks in the adult brain.
Since December 2016, she is member of the Next Generation Leader Advisory Council, a group of eighteen esteemed early-career scientists who act as scientific advisors for the Allen Institute for Brain Science.
Scientific and Research Interests
Complex brain functions and critical behaviors such as language, learning, movement, and emotions are executed by highly sophisticated and stereotyped neural networks, which are composed by an outstanding array of distinct neuronal subtypes that populate the cerebral cortex.
In our lab, we aim at understanding:
- How distinct classes of excitatory projection neurons (PN) and inhibitory interneurons (IN) are generated during development from a defined pool of multi-potent stem cells/progenitors;
- How PN and IN subtypes coordinate their migratory routes and populate the different layers and areas of the cerebral cortex;
- How their subtype-specific identity influences their assembly into specific functional microcircuits, which are often targets of numerous neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, like epilepsy and Autism Disorders.
SCOPUS Author ID: 36021173000
- Lodato S# and Arlotta P# (# corresponding author) – Generating neuronal diversity in the mammalian cerebral cortex. Annual Review of Cellular and Developmental Biology 2015, 31, 699-720 Impact Factor: 17.96
- Lodato S, Shetty AS, Arlotta P – Cerebral cortex assembly: generating and reprogramming neuron diversity. Trends in Neurosciences 2015, 38, 117-125 Impact Factor: 12.504
- Lodato S, Molyneaux BJ, Zuccaro E, Goff LA, Chen HH, Yaun W, Meleski AM, Takahashi E, Mahony S, Rinn JL, Gifford D, Arlotta P – Gene co-regulation by Fezf2 selects neurotransmitter identity and connectivity of corticospinal neurons. Nature Neuroscience 2014, 17, 1046-1054 With “News and Views” article and highlighted by Faculty of 1000. Impact Factor: 16.724
- Sauvageau M#, Goff LA#, Lodato S#, Bonev B, Groff AF, Gerhardinger C, Sanchez-Gomez DB, Hacisuleyman E, Li E, Spence M, Liapis SC, Mallard W, Morse M, Swerdel MR, D’Ecclessis MF, Moore JC, Lai V, Gong G, Yancopoulos GD, Frendewey D, Kellis M, Hart RP, Valenzuela DM, Arlotta P, Rinn JL (# equal contribution) – Multiple knockout mouse models reveal lincRNAs are required for life and brain development. eLife 2013, 2, e01749 Impact Factor: 8.303
- Lodato S, Rouaux C, Quast K, Jantrachotechatchawan C, Hensch T and Arlotta P – Excitatory projection neuron subtypes control the distribution of local inhibitory interneurons in the cerebral cortex. Neuron 2011, 69, 763-779 With “Preview” article and highlighted by Faculty of 1000.
- Lodato S#, Srubek Tomassy G#, De Leonibus E#, Armentano M, Andolfi G, Uzcategui YG, Gaztelu JM, Arlotta P, Menendez de la Prida L, Studer M (# equal contribution) – Loss of COUP-TFI alters the balance between caudal ganglionic eminence-and medial ganglionic eminence-derived cortical interneurons and results in resistance to epilepsy. Journal of Neuroscience 2011, 31, 4650-4662 Impact Factor: 5.924
- Zhang F#, Cong L#, Lodato S, Kosuri S, Church G, Arlotta P (# equal contribution) – Programmable Sequence-Specific Transcriptional Regulation of Mammalian Genome Using Designer TAL Effector. Nature Biotechnology 2011, 29, 149-153 Impact Factor: 43.113
Academic honors, awards and prizes
- 2017 Recipient of the “Fondazione Atena Onlus” Fellowship in Neuroscience Research
- 2016 – 2018 Elected member of Next Generation Leaders Advisory Council of the Allen Institute for Brain Science
- 2015 Recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching
- 2013 Recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching
- 2012 Recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching
- 2011 Recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching
- 2010 Recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching
- 2007 – 2011 Recipient of the Doctoral Fellowship from the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM) (First ranked and fully founded)
- 2002 – 2003 Final candidate at the SUCCESS Student Contest 2002, a competition organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) for European university students from all disciplines to propose an experiment that could fly on board the International Space Station (ISS).