Curriculum Coordinator: Prof. Ernesto Fedele

The Curriculum of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the International Curriculum of Pharmacology and Toxicology aim to train highly qualified experts in the fields of Neuropharmacology, Neurotoxicology and Clinical Pharmacology.

Neuropharmacology regards the study of drugs influencing the functions of neural cells in the nervous system, with a special focus on the characterization of their potency, selectivity and mechanism(s) of action under physiological or pathophysiological conditions. In addition, the agreement with the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience of the Maastricht University for the International Curriculum will provide PhD students with a significant experience in the field of Behavioural Neuropharmacology (Neuropsychopharmacology) that studies how drugs influence human behaviour.

Neurotoxicology  is dedicated to the study of phenomena that cause significant damage/dysfunctions to neural cells and covers a wide range of interests, being aimed at studying not only the harmful consequences of toxic exposure to xenobiotics, but also the neurotoxic effects caused by abnormal concentrations of endogenous molecules, normally produced by our body for physiological functions but that can become cause of or contribute to various neurodegenerative disorders.

Clinical Pharmacology has its main purpose in the prediction and evaluation of the different effects that drugs can have in humans, thus closing the loop in bench-to-bedside drug development. Of particular interest are pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies concerning the variations of drug effects due to genetic differences or pathological conditions with the goal of maximising therapeutic efficacy and minimising adverse events.

This Curriculum, therefore, provides a training path during which PhD students will acquire the specific technical-professional skills necessary to autonomously tackle and solve different pharmaco-toxicological issues of high qualification in preclinical and clinical research settings.

All experimental research activities will be carried out at the laboratories of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Unit of the Department of Pharmacy (DIFAR) and of the Department of Internal Medicine (DIMI). The current research lines of the two Units include:

  • Pathogenic mechanisms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in search of druggable targets in motor neurons, astrocytes, microglia, and oligodendrocytes.
  • Mechanisms of vulnerability and resilience after stress and their role in mood disorders and in the action of antidepressant drugs.
  • Cyclic nucleotide-induced production of β-amyloid and its impact on memory formation.
  • Release-regulating presynaptic GLP-1 receptors in physiological and pathological conditions.
  • Pharmacological characterization of presynaptic release-regulating receptors in CNS: homo and heterodimerization, functional adaptation during aging and in pathological conditions associated to neuro-inflammation and autoimmunity.
  • Impact of botanicals and environmental stimulation on the cognitive reserve.