Scientific Director



Enrico Cherubini received his MD from the University of Roma (1968), where he also completed his specialization in Child Neurology.

In 1971 he spent a period in Marseille under the direction of Prof.  H. Gastaut, a leading figure in the field of Epilepsy. During that time, he became familiar with Epilepsy and obtained the "Attestation d’étude d’electroencephalographie clinique" from the University of Aix-Marseille.

In 1976 he joined Dr. Buchwald’s lab at UCLA (Los Angeles) where, using in vivo intracellular recordings, contributed to characterize the functional connections of basal ganglia in developing kittens. From 1981-1984 he joined Alan North at MIT (Boston) and developed expertise on synaptic signaling using an in vitro preparation. In 1984 he was appointed Directeur de Recherche at INSERM in Paris, where he remained until the end of 1991. Among the major achievements of that period, is the discovery that GABA, the main inhibitory transmitter in the brain, exerts on immature neurons a depolarizing and excitatory action.

In 1992 he moved back to Italy and joined the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) as Full Professor of Physiology, where he served as Head of the Biophysics Department from 1994 to 1997 and Head of the Neurobiology Department from 2002 to 2012.

He was and he is still member of various International Evaluation Committees including INSERM, CNRS, ANR, Ministere de la Recherche, (France), MIUR (Italy), Medical Research Council (UK), Riken Institute (Japan), Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Israel Science Foundation and the European Commission. For Four years (1998-2001) he was member of the Grants Committee of the Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO). He is member of the International Advisory Board of the Institut Pasteur in Montevideo and Scientific Steering Committee of the University of Aix-Marseille.

He was Editor of The Journal of Physiology (London) from 2002 to 2009.

He was President of the Italian Society for Neuroscience (2012-2013)

Since 2014 he is the Scientific Director of EBRI.

He is author of numerous publications in peer-reviewed international journals.

Current research interests include molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying activity-dependent synaptic plasticity processes in the hippocampus during postnatal development. In particular, his interest is in understanding how correlated network activity, generated by the synergistic action of glutamate and GABA, shape neuronal circuits early in postnatal life and how these processes are altered in neuro-developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders. 

Selected publications:

Cherubini E, Ben-Ari Y, Gho M, Bidard JN and Lazdunski M (1987) A bee venom peptide induces long term potentiation of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. Nature 328: 70-73.

Ben-Ari Y, Cherubini E, Corradetti R and Gaiarsa JL (1989) Giant synaptic potentials in immature rat CA3 hippocampal neurones. J Physiol 416:303-325.

Gasparini S, Saviane C, Voronin L and Cherubini E (2000) Silent synapses in the developing hippocampus: lack of functional AMPA receptors or low probability of glutamate release? Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97: 9741-9746.

Kasyanov AM, Safiulina VF, Voronin LL and Cherubini E (2004) GABA-mediated giant depolarizing potentials as coincidence detectors for enhancing synaptic efficacy in the developing hippocampus. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101: 3967-3972.

Majid H. Mohajerani, Sudhir Sivakumaran, Paola Zacchi, Pedro Aguilera and Enrico Cherubini (2007) Correlated network activity enhances synaptic efficacy via BDNF and the ERK pathway at immature CA3-CA1 connections in the hippocampus. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 104: 13176–13181.

Sivakumaran S, Mohajerani MH and Cherubini E (2009) At immature mossy fiber-CA3 synapses correlated pre and postsynaptic activity persistently enhances GABA release and network excitability via BDNF and cAMP-dependent PKA. J. Neurosci.29:2637-2647.