• About SNS

    The Scuola Normale Superiore is a public institute for higher education that in its two centuries of life has earned itself a special place, both in Italy and abroad, a place characterised by merit, talent and scientific rigour. Two types of course are available: the undergraduate course and the PhD course.The teaching activity is distributed among four academic structures: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences, placed in Pisa; the Department of political and social sciences and the Ciampi Institute, located in Florence.  

  • Admission

    The evaluation for entrance to the first year of the undergraduate course does not include the high school leaving certificate, and the bachelor's degree is not taken into consideration in the entrance examination for the fourth year course. For each PhD course, candidates’ level of competence, talent, motivations and aptitudes to scientific research will be assessed on the basis of their qualifications and research project and an interview.

  • Academics

    The Scuola Normale Superiore offers two types of course: the undergraduate course, leading to first and second level university degrees, and the PhD course, the international equivalent of the Italian Dottorato di ricerca.The teaching and research activity is distributed among three academic structures: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of  Sciences, and the Department of Political and Social Sciences.The first two academic structures, housed at the Pisa site, organize courses for both the  undergraduate course and the PhD course. The Department of Political and Social Sciences, situated in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, deals only with the PhD course.

  • Research

    A highly qualifying feature of the Normale way is the strong link between teaching and research that is a characteristic of both the undergraduate and the graduate programmes of the Scuola. The research structures of the two Faculties welcome students with a relevant study interest, enabling them to collaborate in a mature way with the activities of the researchers.

  • International

    The Scuola Normale is an institute of a decidedly international nature. Examinations for admission to the undergraduate degree course and for the PhD course are open to all citizens worldwide. A certain number of places on the PhD course are reserved for students from other countries. During the pre laurea and  post lauream teaching courses, study and research programmes are made available at overseas universities and research centres with which the Scuola forms an intense network of collaboration.  The doctorate course in particular is taught in a veritable graduate school in line with the highest international standards. 

Brief history

Biology Laboratory

In the Biology domain, Scuola Normale has had, until recently,  two laboratories : the Laboratory of Neurobiology (Director prof. Lamberto Maffei) and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Director Prof. Arturo Falaschi). 
The research at the Laboratory of Neurobiology has been, traditionally, mainly focussed on the study of the visual system plasticity, during development and in the adult, and in recent years has  led to the identification of a number of molecules (neurotrophins, extracellular matrix regulators, etc.) or of procedures (such as enriched environment)  able to regulate the opening and closure of the critical periods for plasticity in the adult nervous system.  The SNS Laboratory of Neurobiology has gained international reputation, thanks to the quality of its research and of the results obtained. Under L. Maffei's guidance, many SNS students have been very successful, and are now established neuroscientists around the world.
The Laboratory of Molecular Biology has carried out research at the molecular level, in the field of DNA replication and of molecular virology, and  has been the reference for SNS Biology students in the field of molecular biology.

BioSNS: SNS Laboratory of NeuroBiology

The scientific focus of research at BioSNS is the study of the brain, investigating aspects of brain function and mechanisms during development, in the adult and in ageing.
The research at the SNS Laboratory of NeuroBiology (BioSNS) follows two main directions: the main scientific focus will be on Neurobiology and Neurosciences (which remain an area of great strength and tradition at SNS), and the continuity with the past strong research record in visual neurosciences,  is complemented and integrated by new scientific programs investigating  the molecular and cellular basis of neural development and stem cell biology, neurodegeneration and ageing.
Major advancements in neurosciences rely heavily on new methods. For this reason, the broad scientific aims in Neurobiology are accompanied by a strong effort in the development of new experimental methods and technologies, in the fields of genomics (particularly small RNA genomic technologies), recombinant antibodies (particularly intrabodies), optogenetics and  genetic incorporation of unnatural aminoacids, through genetic code expansion, in recombinant proteins of interest.
Scientific activities at the BioSNS Laboratory of Neurobiology are carried out in the following research projects

  1. Steering the differentiation fate of embryonic stem cells: a microRNA approach (Federico Cremisi)
  2. Synaptic plasticity in the visual system (Matteo Caleo and Tommaso Pizzorusso)
  3. Biology of ageing in the newly established Notobranchius furzeri model (Alessandro Cellerino)
  4. Mechanisms of neurodegeneration in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease and possible translation to human AD (Simona Capsoni and Antonino Cattaneo)
  5. Towards NGF-based therapies for Alzheimer's disease (Antonino Cattaneo and Simona Capsoni)
  6. Molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in α-synucleopathy (Emanuela Colla)
  7. NGF and pain, in the rare genetic diseases HSAN IV and HSAN V (hereditary Sensory and Autonomic neuropathy type IV and type V) (Simona Capsoni)
  8. Chromatin remodelling, and intranasal nano delivery  approaches for brain tumor and Rett syndrome treatments (Mario Costa)
  9. Intrabodies for neuronal and synaptic function (Antonino Cattaneo)
  10. Epigenetic control of gene expression regulates cortical plasticity (Tommaso Pizzorusso)
  11. Identification and characterisation of cellular proteins involved in retroviral infection by whole human genome, high-throughput siRNA screening (Valentina Quercioli)


Sede Operativa: Laboratorio di Neurobiologia, c/o Istituto di Neuroscienze del CNR,
via Moruzzi, 1
56100 Pisa, Italy
Sede Amministrativa: Scuola Normale Superiore,
P.zza dei Cavalieri, 7
56126 Pisa, italy
phone 39 050 3153208 39 050 509111
fax 39 050 3153210