Claudio Grassi, M.D., Ph.D
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Rome, Italy

Claudio Grassi received his M.D. degree (summa cum laude) from Università Cattolica (UCSC) in Rome in 1982. In 1986, he completed his post-doctoral specialization in Neurology and in 1987 he received a Ph.D. in Neurosciences. Dr. Grassi was appointed Assistant Professor at the Institute of Human Physiology of UCSC in 1988, Associate Professor at the UCSC Medical School in 1998, and full Professor of Physiology in 2005. Since 2009, he has been serving as the Director of the Institute of Human Physiology at the UCSC.

Dr. Grassi’s main research interests include modulation of neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission and plasticity; molecular, electrophysiological and behavioral hallmarks of cognitive impairment in experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease; novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; modulation of neural stem cell differentiation and adult hippocampal neurogenesis; the role of viral infections in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases; biological effects of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields on cell fate and differentiation; expression and function of cyclic nucleotide-gated channels in the central nervous system; electrophysiological and molecular characterization of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in glial cells and study of neuronal-glial cell cross-talk; and the role of voltage-gated ion channels and intracellular Ca2+ signals in the pathophysiology of neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Grassi is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, the Italian Society of Neuroscience, and the Italian Society of Physiology. He acts as a reviewer for a large number of scientific journals as well as for research grants funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, the Austrian Science Fund and MIUR. Dr. Grassi also is a Member of the Scientific Committee of the University Hospital “A. Gemelli” in Rome, Coordinator of the Bachelor Course in Nursery, Coordinator of the Ph.D. program in Biophysics at UCSC, and Secretary of the Italian Board of Full Professors of Physiology.

Dr. Grassi’s Group at the Institute of Human Physiology – Catholic University Medical School

Dr. Grassi’s team is shown above on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the academic year 2013/2014 at the Catholic University Medical School in Rome, Italy. People involved in the Molecular Tweezer project are: Roberto Piacentini, PhD (Assistant Professor); Cristian Ripoli, PhD (Assistant Professor); Sara Cocco (PhD Student); Domenica Donatella Li Puma (PhD Student)

Current project in the Grassi group at the Institute of Human Physiology include:

  •                Neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission and plasticity
  •                Experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease
  •                Neural stem cells and adult neurogenesis
  •                Infectious agents and neurodegeneration
  •                Biological effects of electromagnetic fields
  •               Intracellular Ca2+ signaling

The group’s technical skills include:

  •           Primary cell cultures (cortical/hippocampal neurons, neural stem cells, astrocytes; autaptic microcultures)
  •           In vitro and ex vivo electrophysiology (patch clamp recordings from single cells and brain slices)
  •           High-resolution confocal microscopy including: immunocyto and histochemistry; ion imaging (Ca2+; Na+); time-lapse imaging
  •           Molecular Biology (Western Blot; RT-PCR, ChIP)
  •           Behavioral studies (Morris Water Maze; Novel Object Recognition, Y-Maze, Open Field)
A presentation of the experiments used by the Grassi group to study the effects of the molecular tweezer CLR01 on Alzheimer’s disease in primary neuronal cultures is given below. Important: To see all the animations, do not use the arrows below the slide, but rather click on the slide to advance!