Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology
The Bortolato Lab
Brain and Behavior
Neurobiology of Disease
M.D. 2000, University of Cagliari, Italy; Ph.D. 2004, University of Cagliari, Italy
Behavioral neuropharmacology and neurobiology of neurodevelopmental disorders (autism, Tourette syndrome) and impulse-control problems (aggression, gambling)
My research is primarily focused on the characterization of the biological bases of impulse-control disorders (pathological aggression, gambling) and neurodevelopmental disorders (Tourette syndrome and autism-spectrum disorder) through the employment of behavioral tests in animal models. In particular, my key scientific interest is the identification of the mechanisms of interaction between lipid mediators (including neuroactive steroids and endocannabinoids) and key brain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. To this end, we employ a broad array of behavioral, biochemical and molecular biological techniques, as well as stereotactic surgery and HPLC.
My laboratory is currently involved in two major translational research projects. The first target of our investigations is the characterization of the molecular substrates of gene x environment interactions in impulsive aggression. The second aim of our research is the development of novel steroid- and cannabinoid-based tools for the therapy of impulse-control disorders, Tourette syndrome, and mood disorders. Both projects involve multiple collaborations with several basic and clinical scientists in US, Canada, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany.