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Michele Giugliano  

    Zelfstandig academ.pers. BOF
    Departement Biomedische Wetenschappen
interne mandaten:
    Departementsraad Biomedische Wetenschappen
Examencommissie master Biomedische Wetenschappen
Onderwijscommissie Biomedische Wetenschappen
Onderwijscommissie Informatica
    Campus Drie Eiken
Universiteitsplein 1
2610 Wilrijk


Brief Biographical sketch
I am presently tenured Associate Professor (ZAP-BOF research mandate, Hoofddocent) and Principal Investigator at the University of Antwerp. I also retain a visiting academic appointment at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Sheffield (UK) (here), and an external collaboration appointment at the Brain Mind Institute of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (Switzerland) (here). My academic ResearchID and ORCID profiles are publicly accessible. My full CV is available for download here.

I was born in 1974 in Italy, where I was trained as an Electronic Engineer, specialized in Biomedical Engineering. I received my 5 years laurea-degree summa cum laude, from the University of Genova in 1997. During next years, I developed a strong interest for Biophysics and for Computational Neuroscience and, in 2001, I was awarded by the Politecnico di Milano (Italy) with a PhD in Bioengineering, done under the supervision of the late Prof. Massimo Grattarola, who pioneered the fields of Bioelectronics and Neuroengineering.
In the same year, I was awarded with a long-term postdoctoral fellowship from the Human Frontier Science Program Organization, to pursue experimental research on the nervous system, with emphasis on novel non-conventional experimental paradigms and techniques at the cellular and microcircuit levels. I moved to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bern (Switzerland), as a member of the Department of Physiology, working in the team of Prof. Hans-Rudolf Luescher and collaborating also with Prof. Stefano Fusi, while he was a research scientist at the same university.
From 2005 to 2008, I have been Junior Group Leader at the Brain Mind Institute of the EPFL, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) working in the laboratory of Prof. Henry Markram, where I continued to expanding my previous interests in cellular and network neurophysiology and computational neuroscience, and where I developed novel interests for neurotechnology.

Since 2008 I have been faculty member at the Department of Biomedical Sciences at our university, and I am the spoke-person and director of the Laboratory of Theoretical Neurobiology and Neuroengineering. In 2011, I received a positive evaluation of my academic tenure probationary period. In 2012, I was promoted to "Hoofddocent" (roughly equivalent to Associate Professor in the US and to Senior Lecturer in the UK).

Scientific Research Interests and Long-term Visions

My research interests include brain cellular electrophysiology, exploring network-level phenomena in neocortical brain slices and dissociated cell cultures. I am fascinated by the emergence of the coordinated electrical activity and of non-trivial collective properties, when assemblies and neuronal microcircuits are interacting. Bridging the many missing links between synaptic and single-cell properties and the (electrical) phenomena emerging at higher levels of organization, such as neuronal microcircuits and large populations, is my most ambitious goal.
These experimental activities are supported and inspired by biophysical mathematical modelling studies and computer-simulations, involving quantitative description of single-cells and networks of interacting spiking neurons.
 I also explore the combination of non-conventional stimulating/recording tools and nanomaterials (e.g. multi-electrode substrate arrays - MEAs) with traditional patch-clamp recording techniques. I am also exploring optogenetics tools and exploit them for network mapping and neuronal microcircuit reprogramming.

LabIntro.012.jpg My research interests are ultimately related to the field of Neuroengineering and of synthetic neurobiology, where understanding, repairing, replacing, enhancing, or exploiting the electrical properties of mammalian neural systems are central ultimate goals.
In the past, I became also interested in combining carbon nanotubes and carbon-based materials to neuronal networks, as a first step towards future generation neuroprosthetics. These activities were covered earlier by Nature News as well as by their english podcasts that feature an interview (1, 2).

While in Switzerland, I also had the chance to explain some of my research in a brief interview on the (Swiss-german) national television broadcasting. Click here to download and watch it (be patient while it loads).

If you are an italian speaker, listen to an interview given at the Italian national broadcasting RAI Radio 3, or read a featured article on me. More recently, I have been also interviewed on another divulgative scientific broadcasting program "Caccia al Fotone" (in italian). Click here to download and listen to an excerpt of such a broadcasting (be patient while it loads).

In the context of the BRAINLEAP project coordination, I have been also interviewed by Radio 24 - Il Sole 24 Ore as a guest of a divulgative scientific broadcasting program "Moebius"(in italian). Click here to download and listen to an excerpt of such a broadcasting (be patient while it loads).

I received an international qualification to perform in vitro experiments on cellular tissue (FELASA-Cat. B), and since 2005 to independently direct and plan these experiments (FELASA-Cat. C).

Financial Support to the Research Activities (partial list)
Since 2013, I am acting as scientific partner and coordinator of the BRAINLEAP collaborative project, funded by the European Commission Framework Programme 7. This project ambitiously focuses on breakthrough access of neuronal activity by unconventional neurotechnologies.

Since 2012, I am acting as scientific partner and deputy coordinator of the MERIDIAN collaborative project, funded by the European Commission Framework Programme 7. This project ambitiously focuses on micro and nano engineered bi-directional carbon interfaces, for advanced peripheral nervous system prosthetics and hybrid bionics.

Since 2012, I am acting as scientific partner of the ENLIGHTENMENT collaborative project, funded by the European Commission Framework Programme 7. This project aims at exploring neural coding by novel optogenetics, high-density microrecordings and computational approaches, towards cognitive brain-computer interfaces.

Since 2012, I am involved in the NEUROACT university-academia 4-years long training network, funded by the European Commission Framework Programme 7.

Since 2012, I am member of a new network of teams of excellence, WIBRAIN, funded by the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Belgian Programme, in the domain of neurobiology, funded by Belgian Science Policy Office.

Since 2012, I am acting as scientific partner and coordinator of a FWO-funded collaborative research project, aimed at developing an innovative methods for imaging neuronal network electrical and magnetic activity at the cellular level, by non-invasive methods.

Since 2011, I am coordinating a 4-years long training initiative, funded by the European Commission Framework Programme 7 and named NAMASEN.
This is the acronym for a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, whose ultimate mission is to lay the foundation of a virtual scientific institute for the multi-disciplinary study of Neuroengineering and Network-Neurosciences that will train a new generation of scientists and professionals and that will contribute to Europe’s leading role in scientific innovation.

During the period 2010-2013, I have been acting as scientific partner of the ACIN collaborative project, funded jointly by the European Commission Framework Programme 7, under the ERA-NET Materials initiative (MATERA+), and by the IWT. It is a transnational research endeavor focused on materials science and engineering. It focused on activities from basic- to application-oriented research, including innovation. Its overall goals have been to explore and develop implantable devices based on nanocrystalline diamond.

The Laboratory of Theoretical Neurobiology and Neuroengineering
I acknowledge the constant hard work, commitment, dedication, and creativity of all the members of the laboratory of Theoretical Neurobiology and Neuroengineering, I have the privilege to direct, located in the biomedical Campus Drie Eiken of our university.

Teaching and Online Classes Availability
During the winter semester, I teach an interdisciplinary course on "Computational Neuroscience", offered to the students of three (master) curricula: Biomedical Sciences, Physics, and Computer Sciences. During the spring semester, I contribute to the course "System Neuroscience", with few targeted lectures, offered to the master students of Biomedical Sciences. I co-organize the State-of-the-Art Lectures in Biomedicine and occasionally contributed to the (bachelor) practical course "Bachelor Thesis

During the academic year 2012/2013, "Computational Neuroscience" have been video-taped, through the generous financial support from the European Commission (FP7-PEOPLE) by means of the Marie-Curie Initial Training Network NAMASEN

Previous years copy of the handouts (both as a B/W or a color booklet) are available to UA students at the "Reprografie & Cursusdienst" of the campus at printing costs, while the course Syllabus is available online for download.
During each academic year, videotaping of my classes is organized (pending availability) by UA and made it available online via streaming on UA media site.
As content and pace of the course change from year to year, in no way attendance to the classes can be replaced by watching online the lectures. 

A final comment on active learning and note-taking during classes: the information provided to students during lectures contains the central concepts of the course(s). These concepts, as well as additional information from the suggested readings, will be required during the exam(s). In the last few years in Antwerp as well as in Lausanne, with few exceptions, I often witnessed that students do not realize how important is to take notes, to actively listen, or to ask questions during classes. I warmly encourage students to acquire and practice these essential skills (see for instance here), unless they master them already from secondary school.

Internship, Master Theses, Monographic Projects, PhD openings
LabIntro.008.jpg To the attention of UA students, a number of monographic projects and theses are available in the laboratory, throughout each academic year. These are aimed at students of Biomedical Sciences, Physics, and Computer Sciences curricula, and cover topics of cellular electrophysiology, neurobiology, biophysics, theoretical and computational modelling and simulation, image processing, neuroinformatics, data-bases, robotics, analog-digital acquisition and real-time operating system.
Interested students are welcomed to get in touch for an appointment, to know more about our activities and about how they could contribute to it before, within, or beyond a master thesis project.

We are always searching for talented, curios, and passionate PhD students to train, as well as for creative thinkers and independent-minded postdoctoral researchers to collaborate with. In case of mutual interest, we help in preparing grant applications to national and international funding agencies such as FWO, IWT, BAEF, BELSPO, JSPSHFSPO, Boehringer IngelheimEC, and other sources (see also here).