In the Biology domain, Scuola Normale has had, until recently, two laboratories : the Laboratory of Neurobiology (Director prof. Lamberto Maffei) and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Director Prof. Arturo Falaschi).
These two laboratories was the natural reference structure for Biology students at SNS.
The research at the Laboratory of Neurobiology has been, traditionally, mainly focussed on the study of the visual system plasticity, during development and in the adult, and in recent years has led to the identification of a number of molecules (neurotrophins, extracellular matrix regulators, etc.) or of procedures (such as enriched environment) able to regulate the opening and closure of the critical periods for plasticity in the adult nervous system.
The SNS Laboratory of Neurobiology has gained international reputation, thanks to the quality of its research and of the results obtained.
Under L. Maffei’s guidance, many SNS students have been very successful, and are now established neuroscientists around the world.
The experimental approaches carried out in the laboratory have been rather broad, but mostly the interest and focus have been at the level of the global visual system and visual performance (systems neuroscience).
The Laboratory of Molecular Biology has carried out research at the molecular level, in the field of DNA replication and of molecular virology, and has been the reference for SNS Biology students in the field of molecular biology.
For a number of different reasons, the two laboratories, in the past, have not interacted a lot, each of the two remaining in its own field of activity, without developing synergic interactions. Due to academic turnover of their Directors (in the case of the late prof. Arturo Falaschi this coincided with his unfortunate death), the two Laboratories have now completed their cycle.
The present scientific proposal, by the newly appointed Professor of Neurobiology at Scuola Normale Superiore, intends to reorganize the research in Biology at Scuola Normale, in continuity with the past research and track record of the pre-existing laboratories, and attempting to integrate different areas of Biology in one broad research program and to increase the scientific interaction with other scientific areas of Scuola Normale, such as Biophysics and Nanophysics (the NEST laboratories) and Chemistry.