Francesca Cirulli is a Senior Researcher at the Department of Cell Biology and Neurosciences at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, Italy. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at Sapienza University of Rome, she obtained her Master in Biological Sciences and her Ph.D. in Neurosciences at Stanford University Medical School in 2000 under the supervision of Gig Levine. Upon returning to Italy as a researcher of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, she has been collaborating for many years with the Laboratory of Neurobiology at the Italian National Research Council, headed by Rita Levi-Montalcini, investigating the role of early experiences on neuronal plasticity. Through this research activity, she has shown for the first time that early life stress, such as maternal separation, affects levels of neurotrophins in rodent models and has indicated NGF as a player in environmentally-mediated brain plasticity during development. She has given original contributions to the study of stress on brain function, taking into account the crosstalk between the central nervous system, the neuroendocrine and the immune system and investigating the role of social factors as mental health determinants. She is also studying the role of energy metabolism (oxidative stress) on brain function during aging. She is making use of multiple approaches for the search of epigenetic markers as well and individual molecular, cellular and behavioral signatures of stress in order to facilitate a ‘stratified/individualized medicine’ through preclinical and clinical studies. In a translational perspective, she is also involved in the development of innovative interventions for managing individuals with psychosocial difficulties and disabilities, also bridging with the experimental psychology field exploiting innovative techniques (e.g. eye-tracking and animal-assisted interventions). She has published over 100research articles and many book chapters.
Francesca is still collaborating with researchers in the USA (Stanford, NIH) and is involved in numerous collaborations with research groups across Europe funded by national and international agencies.
She has been Committee member of EBBS (2005-2008) and has a long-standing association with the Society. In the past, she has been European Councilor on the Board of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS). She serves as Associate Editor for the journals Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews and Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.