Connecting European Neuroscience

Micaela Morelli

Ordinary member, Committee for Higher Education and Training (CHET) (July 2020 - July 2022)

Curriculum Vitae                                                  

Present positions:

Full Professor of Pharmacology University of Cagliari, Italy 

Professional and academic career

1981-82 and 1986 Research Associate Department of Pharmacology, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
1982-90 Researcher, Institute of Pharmacology, Univ. of Cagliari
From 1990 Full Professor of Pharmacology Univ. of Cagliari
1997-2000 Chairman of the Dpt. of Toxicology, Univ. of Cagliari
From 2010 Head of the unit of Neuropsychopharmacology of the Dpt of Biomedical Sciences
2015-2021 Vice-Rector for Research University of Cagliari

Responsibilities and affiliations

From 1995 Affiliated to CNR Institute of Neuroscience
From 2001 Center of Excellence for Neurobiology of Dependence
2013- 2016 Member of CEPR (Committee of Expert for Research Politics) of the Italian Ministry of University and Research
2018-2020 Committee for the Research Implementation Plan (PNR) of the Italian Ministry of University and Research

Reviewer of research projects

Agencies and Institution as Agencie National de la Research (ANR), France; Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR); Parkinson Disease Society, USA; Concurso de Projectos de I&D, Portugal; ERANET program, EU
Editorial and Review Board: Neurotoxicity Research, Experimental Neurology, International Review in Neurobiology, Journal of Caffeine Research, Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy

Honours and awards

2004-2014 Representative of the University of Cagliari in the Governing Council of the Bank of Sardinia Foundation
2018-2020 President of Italian Society Neuroscience
2009 October: Invited Foreign Scientist of MECESUP UCH 0704-Chile University of Chile, Santiago
2012-2014 Research Award from Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
2019 IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant Award for UNISTEM Day

Organization of international conferences

Basal Ganglia Society (Italy 1989); European Behavioral Pharmacological Society (Italy 1996); Targeting adenosine A2A receptors in Parkinson’s disease (Boston 2006); Basal Ganglia Society (Netherland 2007); 8th IBRO (Florence, Italy 2011); Basal Ganglia Society (Israel 2013), Dopamine 2013 (Italy), 9th FENS Forum 2014 (Milano); SINS 2015 (Cagliari Italy); Movement Disorder Society 2016 (Berlin) and 2017 (Vancouver); SINS 2017 (Ischia Italy); International conference on Neurological Disorders 2019 (Ahmedabad India); SINS 2019 (Perugia Italy)

International and national responsibilities

2001-2006 Italian Neuroscience Society Governing Council (SINS)
2004-2010 International Basal Ganglia Society Governing Council (IBAGS)
2005-2010 Italian representative International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)
2010-2019 WERC/PERC and IBRO Governing Council
From 2017 IBRO Nominating Committee

Research interests

The main subjects of investigation have been the mechanism of action of drugs affecting dopamine and adenosine transmission and their interaction in models of Parkinson's disease. Expertise in behavioral evaluation of motor dysfunctions and in markers of basal ganglia function and dysfunction. The biochemical techniques utilized, range from immunohistochemical evaluation of enzyme, proteins etc. (tyrosine hydroxylase, DAT, GFAP, CD11b, Fos) and in situ hybridization evaluation of mRNA for early-genes, peptides, enzymes (zif-268, dynorphin, enkephalin, GAD67). The main scientific accomplishments have been the identification of adenosine A2A receptor antagonists ability to counteract motor and biochemical deficits in basal ganglia of Parkinson’s disease models and to evidence their neuroprotective effects. Recent findings have shown that amphetamine-like drugs produce neuroinflammation and dopamine neuron degeneration.

Number of publications: 216; total citations 8300; h-index: 48 

Selected Publications

Moratalla R., Khairnar A., Simola N., Granado N., Garcìa-Montes J.R., Porceddu P.F., Tizabi Y., Costa G., Morelli M. (2017) Amphetamine-related drugs neurotoxicity in humans and in experimental animals: Main mechanisms. Progress in Neurobiology. 155:149-170

Simola N, Frau L, Plumitallo A, Morelli M.(2014) Direct and long-lasting effects elicited by repeated drug administration on 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations are regulated differently: implications for the study of the affective properties of drugs of abuse. Int Journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Mar;17(3):429-41

Heumann R, Moratalla R, Herrero MT, Chakrabarty K, Drucker-Colín R, Garcia-Montes JR, Simola N, Morelli M. (2014) Dyskinesia in Parkinson's disease: mechanisms and current non-pharmacological interventions. Journal Neurochemistry. Aug;130(4):472-89

Frau L, Simola N, Plumitallo A, Morelli M. (2013) Microglial and astroglial activation by 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in mice depends on S(+) enantiomer and is associated with an increase in body temperature and motility. Journal Neurochemistry. Jan;124(1):69-78

Costa G, Frau L, Wardas J, Pinna A, Plumitallo A, Morelli M. (2013) MPTP-induced dopamine neuron degeneration and glia activation is potentiated in MDMA-pretreated mice. Movement Disorders. Dec;28(14):1957-65

Simola N, Fenu S, Costa G, Pinna A, Plumitallo A, Morelli M. (2012) Pharmacological characterization of 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in rats: comparison of the effects of different psychoactive drugs and relevance in drug-induced reward. Neuropharmacology. 63(2):224-34

Morelli, M., Carta, A.R., Jenner, P. (2009) Adenosine A2A receptors and Parkinson's disease . Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, vol 193, 589-615

Carta AR, Kachroo A, Schintu N, Xu K, Schwarzschild MA, Wardas J, Morelli M. (2009) Inactivation of neuronal forebrain A receptors protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Journal Neurochemistry. Dec;111(6):1478-89

Morelli M, Di Paolo T, Wardas J, Calon F, Xiao D, Schwarzschild MA. (2007) Role of adenosine A(2A) receptors in parkinsonian motor impairment and l-DOPA-induced motor complications. Progress Neurobiology. 83: 293-309

Schwarzschild, M.A., Agnati, L., Fuxe, K., Chen, J.F., Morelli, M. (2006) Targeting adenosine A(2A) receptors in Parkinson’s disease. Trends Neurosci., 29 (11): 647-654

Micaela Morelli

Full Professor
Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy
Cittadella di Monserrato, Blocco A
+39 380 4335292
morelli@unica.it

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