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Stefano Brigidi



Assistant Professor of Neurobiology

Cellular Neuroscience
Molecular Neuroscience
Developmental Neurobiology





B.Sc. 2007, McGill University; Ph.D. 2014, University of British Columbia; Postdoctoral Fellow 2015-2020, University of California, San Diego


Cellular, molecular, and genomic mechanisms underlying experience-driven synapse and circuit plasticity


The Brigidi Lab is interested in the genomic underpinnings of sensory experience-driven synapse and circuit plasticity. As we explore our surroundings we experience a barrage of sensory stimuli, some salient and most irrelevant, and in response can flexibly update our behavior. How do our brains transform fleeting, salient stimuli into long-lasting memories and behavioral adaptations? How are incoming sensory stimuli transduced at the level of neural circuits and synapses? What molecular mechanisms underlie the plasticity of synapses and circuits necessary for learning and behavioral flexibility? 
The most enduring forms of neuronal plasticity require regulation of the genome. Inducible transcription factors (ITFs), a subset of immediate early genes, are rapidly expressed in response to incoming stimuli, traffic into the nucleus and bind thousands of sites across the genome. ITFs carefully orchestrate downstream programs of gene regulation that impact neuronal functions and plasticity, and are therefore poised to tailor a cell's phenotype and role within its local circuit to incoming stimuli in real time and on a continuous basis. The lab's long-term goal is to uncover the genomic mechanisms that form the neural basis of behavioral adaptations, and is investigating key questions surrounding ITF biology:
- Are particular ITFs fine-tuned to specific  patterns of depolarizing activity stimuli experienced by neurons within their local circuits? What molecular pathways enable an ITF to distinguish a salient stimulus from an irrelevant one?
- Can ITFs tailor downstream gene regulation programs to a specific stimulus? How do the collection of genes regulated by an ITF impact synaptic and circuit plasticity?
- Is stimulus-specific ITF responsivity and downstream gene regulation also cell subtype-specific? How might ITFs support cellular diversity in neural circuits across brain regions, and through development?
- How does brain region- and cell subtype-specific ITF expression support learning and experience-driven behavioral adaptions?
To answer these questions, the lab uses ex vivo whole-cell electrophysiology with circuit manipulation techniques including pharmacology and optogenetics, combined with biochemistry, new CRISPR/Cas9 technologies, and genome-wide sequencing. Detailed molecular work at the level of intact neural circuits is at the core of all projects within the lab.

My Bibliography


Last Updated: 6/4/21