Simona Casarosa
Simona Casarosa
affiliation: University of Trento, CIBIO
research area(s): Developmental Biology
Course: Biomolecular Sciences
University/Istitution: Università di Trento
Professional experience:
-January 2009-present: Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator of the Developmental Neurobiology Laboratory at the Centre for Integrative Biology (CIBIO), University of Trento, Italy. Research in my lab deals with stem cell differentiation in retinal cells and with the role of homeobox transcription factors and of miRNAs in nervous system and retinal development using both animal model systems (frog, mouse) and cell cultures.
-from September 2009: Course Instructor of the Developmental Biology Course (85 hrs/yr) for the 2nd year of the Biomolecular Science and Technology Degree of the University of Trento (It is a new Degree, its 1st year started in 2008).
-November 2004-November 2007: Course Instructor of the Embryology Course for the Biological Sciences Degree of the Pisa University. Member/President of comittees for student evaluation and for undergraduate defense thesis.
-January 2000-December 2008: Senior postdoc and project leader in the Cell and Developmental Biology Laboratory, Biology Department, University of Pisa. During my research experience in Pisa I have independently led 2 research projects. Both projects concern the genetic control of the development of the nervous system and of the retina. During this period I have managed the work of 2-3 persons groups (technicians and students) and trained new technicians and students. I have participated in writing of grant proposals.
-November 1996-December 1999: Post-doctoral fellowship at the Institut de Génetique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Strasbourg, France. (Supervisor: Dr. François Guillemot). I have led an independent research project under the supervision of Dr. François Guillemot, dealing with the role of bHLH transcription factors during telencephalic development.

2010: Selected in first-round evaluation of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants 2009 (Research proposal evaluated as fundable, ranked in reserve list).
2010: University of Trento 10.000 Euros prize for ERC Starting Grants finalists.
2005-2008: Research associate contract from the Italian Telethon Foundation.
2000-2004: Postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Pisa.
1996-1999: postdoctoral fellowships from the French Cancer Research Association (ARC) and Human Frontier Science Program Organisation.
June 1995: Fellowship awarded from the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachussets, U.S.A., to attend the Summer Course on “Embryology: Cell Differentiation and Gene Expression in Early Development” (June, 13-July, 26).
1993-1996: PhD fellowship awarded from the University of Pisa for a three year term.

-Since January 2009: Assistant Professor (Ricercatore a tempo determinato SSD BIO/06) and Principal Investigator at the Centre for Integrative Biology (CIBIO), University of Trento.
-January 2000-December 2008: Research associate in the Cell and Developmental Biology Laboratory, University of Pisa.
-November 1996-December 1999: Post-doctoral fellowship at the Institut de Génetique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Strasbourg, France. (Supervisor: Dr. François Guillemot).
July 8, 1997: Ph.D. defense.
-November 1993-October 1996: Ph.D. fellowship at the University of Pisa in Developmental Biology (Supervisor: Prof. G. Barsacchi). Title of the project: “Identification of a novel homeobox-containing gene expressed during eye development in X.laevis .”
-April 1992-November 1993: Research training in the Cell and Developmental Biology Laboratory, University of Pisa (Supervisor: Prof. G. Barsacchi).
-March 27, 1992: Graduated with honours (110/110 cum laude) in Biology.
-November 1986-March 1992: Faculty of Sciences, University of Pisa. Course in Biology.
-July 1986: Baccalaureat à Option Internationale at the Lycée International, St. Germain en Laye, France.

Our laboratory studies the factors and the molecular mechanisms driving the specification, proliferation and differentiation of retinal stem and progenitor cells. We aim to identify the genes necessary and sufficient to drive embryonic stem cells toward retinal fates. We have recently shown that that treatment with high doses of the neural inducer molecule Noggin enables Xenopus animal cap embryonic stem cells (ACES) to rescue a complete eye in embryos lacking one of the eye primordia. We address these issues using both amphibian and mammalian embryos and cell cultures. We combine molecular biology, histological and immunological techniques together with embryo manipulations and transplants to isolate and characterize new candidate factors important for retinogenesis.

Specific projects are:

* Characterize Noggin mediated retinal induction of ACES cells. Understanding the differentiation potential of Noggin-treated ACES cells will be the first step toward the elucidation of its pathway of action. This will be further characterized by transcriptome and proteome analyses to isolate its molecular effectors.
* Differentiation of mammalian stem cells toward retinal fates. Noggin and its effectors will be tested for their capability of directing the differentiation of mammalian stem cells toward retinal fates. We are also setting up a cellular assay to perform a high-throughput screening of small molecule libraries, to identify new molecules necessary for retinal differentiation. The differentiated cells will be analyzed for their morphology, expression of specific markers and by electrophysiology, in order to understand their stage of retinal differentiation. This will allow us to understand their transplantation and integration potential. Successively, we will also test the therapeutic potential of these cells transplanting them to the subretinal space of known retinal degeneration mouse models.

Casarosa S., Leone P., Cannata S., Santini F., Pinchera A., Barsacchi G., Andreazzoli M., (2005) Genetic Analysis of meamorphic and premetamorphic Xenopus Ciliary Marginal Zone. Developmental Dynamics 233, pp 646-651.
D’Autilia S., Decembrini S:, Casarosa S., He R.-Q., Barsacchi G., Cremisi F., Andreazzoli M., (2006), Cloning and developmental expression of the Xenopus homeobox gene Xvsx1. Development, Genes and Evolution 216, pp829-834.
Castellano S., Casarosa S., Sweatt AJ., Hutson SM., Bozzi Y., (2007) Expression of cytosolic branched chain aminotransferase (BCATc) mRNA in the developing mouse brain. Gene Expr Patterns. 7(4):485-90.
Brilli E., Scali M., Casarosa S., Köhler M., Bozzi Y., (2008), Seizures increase importin-b1 expression in NG2+ cells in the rat hippocampus. J Neurosci Res. 2008 Sep 24. [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: 10.1002/jnr.21879
Tripathi P., Sgado’ P., Scali M., Viaggi C., Casarosa S., Simon H., Vaglini F., Corsini G.U., Bozzi Y., (2009) Increased susceptibility to kainic acid-induced seizures in Engrailed-2 knockout mice. Neuroscience, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.01.007
Lan L., Vitobello A., Cremisi F., Vignali R., Andreazzoli M., Barsacchi G., Casarosa S., (2009) Noggin elicits retinal fate in Xenopus animal cap embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells, 27, pp2146-2152. DOI 10.1002/stem.167.
No projects are available to students for the current accademic year.