Connecting European Neuroscience

Advanced Techniques for Synapse Biology course directors 2017

After completing my studies on Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology I got a PhD at the University of Milano in Pharmacology and Toxicology and subsequently a second PhD at the University of Utrecht where I deepened my interest in synaptic plasticity both in physiological and pathological conditions.

Since 2000 I am Professor at University of Milano and my lab has a long-lasting interest in cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating brain function/s and dysfunction/s. We devoted the last 20 years towards the understanding of early synaptic dysfunction in two devastating forms of neurodegenerative disease, namely Alzheimer Disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease.

Because AD and PD are synaptopathies, diseases of the synaptic proteome, most of our work has focused on the mechanisms regulating the composition, the structural organization and the dynamic of the glutamatergic synapses. We originally demonstrated in 1998 a direct association of NMDA receptor to CaMKII and subsequently we showed that in mouse models for AD and PD, NMDA receptor composition in the postsynaptic density is dramatically altered.

Next, we focused on synaptic dysfunction in AD showing the pathological role of the disintegrin and metalloproteinase 10 (ADAM10) that resides in the postsynaptic densities of excitatory synapses discovering a mechanism that controls ADAM10 localization and activity at excitatory synapses and that is relevant to AD pathogenesis. These discoveries led to the creation of an innovative non-transgenic model of AD highlighting ADAM10 trafficking as target for disease-modifying therapies.

A total of 190 pubmed indexed papers have been published.


  • Co-directors:
  • Dr. Fabrizio Gardoni is Associate Professor at Dept. Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Milan. Dr Gardoni has established a research line focusing on the understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which the efficacy of the glutamatergic synapse is modulated by different protein-protein interactions taking place in the postsynaptic density, and the key role of these events in neurodegenerative diseases, i.e. Parkinson disease. He has expertise in protein analysis, subcellular fractionation, characterization of post-translational protein modification, imaging techniques, molecular biology. Fabrizio Gardoni also has responsibility for checking the contents of the following journals to ensure that the highest quality research relevant to their own interests within these publications is comprehensively and systematically evaluated for F1000: Nature Neuroscience and Journal of Neuroscience. Academice position: Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Milan, Italy. Education: PhD, Toxicology and Medical Chemistry, University of Milan, Italy.

  •  Nathalie Sans, University of Bordeaux, France 

Natalie Sans was a post-doc with Robert J. Wenthold at NIH in Bethesda (USA). She identified several novel components involved in intracellular trafficking of AMPA and NMDA receptors and studies the influence of their traffic on the structure and function of glutamatergic synapses. She is currently an INSERM Research Director at the Neurocentre Magendie at the University of Bordeaux, France. She continues to study intracellular traffic in relation with spine structure and function and develop new projects relying on multidisciplinary approaches to identify and define the specific function of planar cell polarity signaling in neuronal polarity and the impact of the disruption of this signaling in pathological context. Nathalie will instruct synapse biochemistry and postsynaptic trafficking studies in cultured neurons.