Carlo Sala, 2001

Career Development Award Project Title

“Regulation of dendritic spine and synaptic structure by Shank”, 2001

Who he is

A trained medical doctor, in 2001 Carlo Sala was appointed Assistant Professor at the Institute of Neuroscience of the National Research Council of Milan. After his medical degree and a doctorate in pharmacology at the University of Milan in 1998, Sala won the Armenise Harvard Fellowship and carried out his research as a postdoc in Prof. Morgan Shang’s lab at the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

In 2001, thanks to the Career Development Awards, he moved back to Milan where he set up his own laboratory on “Cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity” at the Institute of Neuroscience.

What he does

How does our brain evolve, change, and alter its structure? This question has to do with the concept of brain plasticity, and that’s exactly what Sala’s research is focused on. In particular, his team aims to study and understand the function of proteins that regulate synapse formation and plasticity.

Synapses are essential for information processing in the brain: changes in the molecular composition of pre- and post-synaptic compartments are critical for the modulation of synaptic efficacy in both normal and pathological conditions.

In fact, one of the fundamental questions in neurobiology is understanding how neuronal activity causes lasting changes in synaptic structure and function and how that contributes to learning and memory.

News from the Lab

Using in vivo and in vitro models, Sala and colleagues are particularly interested in studying the function of such proteins as Shank, IL1RAPL1 and MeCP2, which are encoded by mutated or deleted genes in patients with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders.