• 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. 

Full Professor
Tel. +39 050 509320

Palazzo della Carovana

Classe di scienze
Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7
56126, PISA

After obtaining a Degree in Physics at the University of Rome La Sapienza (1976), Antonino Cattaneo undertook research in Neurobiology at Scuola Normale Superiore with Lamberto Maffei, working on the encoding of visual information by cells of the the visual cortex (1977-1980). He then worked at the CNR Institute of Cell Biology with Rita Levi Montalcini and Pietro Calissano on the molecular mechanisms of neuronal differentiation by Nerve Growth Factor (1981-1984) and at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge UK) (1985-1989) with Cesar Milstein and Michael Neuberger, where he demonstrated the experimental strategy of ectopical antibody expression targeted to different subcellular compartments, for protein interference in the nervous system and other biological systems.  From 1991 he was Full Professor of Biophysics at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA)  in Trieste, where as Head of the Biophysics Sector and Deputy Director he was involved in setting up from scratch SISSA Neuroscience Program. From 2004 he assisted Rita Levi-Montalcini in launching the European Brain Research Institute, for which he served as the Scientific Director, before joyning Scuola Normale Superiore in 2009. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and of the Accademia delle Scienze dei XL, has been a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College (University of Cambridge, UK) and has received many international awards for his research. He is the author of over 180 peer reviewed pubblications in international scientific journals and an inventor on several biotechnology patents, based on his  research, all of which have been industrially exploited.
His research led to i) the development of the intrabody protein silencing technology, ii) the discovery of proNGF/NGF imbalance as an unpstream driver mechanism for Alzheimer's neurodegeneration, iii) the development of innovative neurotrophic factor based therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Two humanized recombinant antibodies developed in his laboratory are currently under clinical testing in man.
His current research aims at deciphering the molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to neurodegeneration, at studying protein misfolding in living cells and at identifying new targets for the development of new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases (most notably Alzheimer's disease), based on these mechanisms. A strong interest in his research is dedicated to the development of new technologies and experimental strategies for intefering with protein function in living neurons in a spatially and temporally precise fashion (intrabodies). More details in BioSNS Laboratory.