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Research Interests

Umberto di Porzio is Research Director in Neuroscience at IGB. The research in his laboratory are focused on the molecular mechanisms involved in regulating midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neuron differentiation, survival and disease.
The main research lines are:
1. The identification of gene networks playing a key role in the commitment and maturation of mDA neurons. In the last few years, the attention has been focused on the role of transcription factors essential for the induction and maintenance of the mDA phenotype.
2. The study of neural stem cells and Mesenchimal Adipose Stem cells, exploited to achieve differentiation of mDA neurons. The latter are used as the elective choice for a forefront therapeutical approach to CNS degenerative diseases based on replacment of altered neurons.

3. The study of mDA related pathologies using rodent animal models (Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, addiction).


Short CV

1991-Present CNR Research Director in Neuroscience, Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, “A. Buzzati Traverso”, CNR, Naples Italy, Chief Developmental Neurobiology Lab.
1991    2006-Present    Head of the “Commessa” of the CNR Life Science Dept. “Molecular and cellular mechanisms of neural determination and nervous system pathology
1989-91    Senior Scientist International Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, CNR, Naples Italy.
1991        Consultant to the Italian Ministry of Research and University On A. Ruberti for “The decade of the brain”.1985-90    Fogarty Visiting Scientist, NINDS, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.
1975-89    Staff Scientist at the International Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, CNR, Naples, Italy.
1982-84    Visiting Scientist, Yale Univ. School of Medicine, Dept. of Neurosurgery, New Haven, CT, USA.
1977-80    Chargè de Rècherche INSERM, Collège de France, Paris.
1974        Postdoctoral Fellow Istituto di Patologia Generale, School of Medicine, Univ of Naples.
1974         Abilitazione alla professione medica (M.D. license).
1972-73    Postdoctoral Fellow Dept. of Biology, UCSD, San Diego, CA, USA.
1971        Laurea Medicina e Chirurgia, School of Medicine, Naples (MD).
1963          Maturità Classica Liceo Umberto I.


Selected Publications
  • U. di Porzio. The brain from within. Front. In Human Neurosci. 2016  In press

  • Viggiano D, Srivastava DP, Speranza L, Perrone-Capano C, Bellenchi GC, di Porzio U, Buckley NJ. Quantifying barcodes of dendritic spines using entropy-based metrics. Sci Rep. 2015 Sep 30;5:14622. doi: 10.1038/srep14622.

  • Speranza L, Giuliano T, Volpicelli F, De Stefano ME, Lombardi L, Chambery A, Lacivita E, Leopoldo M, Bellenchi GC, di Porzio U, Crispino M, Perrone-Capano C. Activation of 5-HT7 receptor stimulates neurite elongation through mTOR, Cdc42 and actin filaments dynamics. Front Behav Neurosci. 2015 Mar 11;9:62. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00062. eCollection 2015.
  • The serotonin receptor 7 and the structural plasticity of brain circuits. Volpicelli F, Speranza L, di Porzio U, Crispino M, Perrone-Capano C. Front Behav Neurosci. 2014 Sep 12;8:318. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00318. eCollection 2014.

  • Transcription factors FOXG1 and Groucho/TLE promote glioblastoma growth. Verginelli F, Perin A, Dali R, Fung KH, Lo R, Longatti P, Guiot MC, Del Maestro RF, Rossi S, di Porzio U, Stechishin O, Weiss S, Stifani S. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2956. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3956.Bellenchi GC, Volpicelli F, Piscopo V, Perrone-Capano C, di Porzio U. Adult neural stem cells: an endogenous tool to repair brain injury? J Neurochem. 2013 Jan;124(2):159-67. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12084. Epub 2012 Dec 5.

  • Speranza L, Chambery A, Di Domenico M, Crispino M, Severino V, Volpicelli F, Leopoldo M, Bellenchi GC, di Porzio U, Perrone-Capano C. The serotonin receptor 7 promotes neurite outgrowth via ERK and Cdk5 signaling pathways. Neuropharmacology. 2013 Apr;67:155-67. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.10.026. Epub 2012 Nov 16.
  • Greco D, Volpicelli F, Di Lieto A, Leo D, Perrone-Capano C, Auvinen P, di Porzio U. Comparison of gene expression profile in embryonic mesencephalon and neuronal primary cultures. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(3).
  • Colucci-D'Amato L, di Porzio U. (2008) Neurogenesis in adult CNS: from denial to opportunities and challenges for therapy. Bioessays. 30(2):135-45.
  • Volpicelli F, Caiazzo M, Greco D, Consales C, Leone L, Perrone-Capano C, Colucci D'Amato L, di Porzio U. (2007) Bdnf gene is a downstream target of Nurr1 transcription factor in rat midbrain neurons in vitro. J Neurochem. 102(2):441-53.
  • Volpicelli F, Perrone-Capano C, Da Pozzo P, Colucci-D'Amato L, di Porzio U. Modulation of nurr1 gene expression in mesencephalic dopaminergic neurones. J Neurochem. 2004 Mar;88(5):1283-94. Erratum in: J Neurochem. 2004 Jul;90(1):256.
  • Colucci D'Amato L, Perrone-Capano C, di Porzio U (2003) Chronic activation of ERK and neurodegenerative diseases BioEssays 2003;25:1085-95.



  • Petri Auvinen and Dario Greco: Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Carlo Alberto Beltrami: Università degli Studi di Udine
  • Ottorino Belluzzi: Università di Ferrara Ferrara .
  • Noel J. Buckley: Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour, King's College London, UK
  • Alessandro Zuddas: Università di Cagliari.


Keywords: Dopamine, transcriptional regulation of neurogenesis, Parkison's disease, neurotrophic factors

Umberto di Porzio

CNR Honorary Appointment (Associato CNR)

+39 081 6132356

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