May 2024

BESE Seminar

VPR Special Seminar: The Biology of Memory: Understanding Who we Are and Finding Novel Therapies for CNS Diseases

Professor Cristina Alberini
26 May, 2024
02:00 PM – 03:00 PM

Memories are essential for survival and shape our identity. Long-term memory formation and storage are complex and dynamic processes. Using rodent models, my lab is interested in understanding the biology underlying this complexity. Currently, we are focusing on two major questions: the first concerns the identification of the biological mechanisms engaged in memory formation in infancy, the period in which the memories seem to be rapidly forgotten, yet in the meantime the brain is shaping its identity. The second question asks what types of molecular and cellular mechanisms the adult brain uses to form, process, and store explicit memories. My presentation will focus on the second question, and discuss one example of our major findings on a key biological pathway regulated in response to learning, its recruitment of diverse cell types, and its roles in long-term memory formation and enhancement. I will also discuss how these basic science findings led to uncover mechanisms and targets important for developing potential treatments for CNS diseases.

Alberini graduated with honors (Laurea) in Biological Sciences at the University of Pavia and a PhD in Immunological Sciences from the University of Genoa (Italy), and then trained in neurobiology as a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University with Eric Kandel. From 1997-2000 she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Brown University and then Associate and Full Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York from 2001 to 2011. In 2011 she joined the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Alberini trained as a psychoanalyst at NPAP in New York starting in 2002 and became licensed in the state of NY in 2012.

Professor Cristina Alberini has trained as a molecular and cell biologist in immunology in Pavia and Genoa. After her PhD in immunology, she trained in neurobiology at Columbia University, New York, working in the lab of Prof Eric Kandel. Alberini dedicated her career to uncovering the molecular bases of learning and memory. Her studies, utilizing invertebrate (Aplysia californica) and mammalian (rat and mouse) systems, have characterized fundamental mechanisms of long-term memory formation, stabilization, persistence and strengthening. The identification of the mechanisms underlying the dynamic processes of memories is important for understanding memory in physiological conditions but also for finding the causes and treatments of memory disorders. Alberini’s current work focuses on identifying mechanisms key for memory strengthening and how they can be used to develop new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, it aims at elucidating the biological mechanisms of memory in early development, when learning is fundamental to build mental abilities.

Her discoveries led Alberini to start a biotech company, Ritrova Therapeutics Inc., in 2020. By targeting novel mechanisms of brain protein metabolism regulation, Ritrova aims at developing novel therapied for neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders. Alberini is the Founder and CEO of Ritrova.

Alberini trained as a psychoanalyst at NPAP in New York starting in 2002 and became licensed in the state of NY in 2012. She is actively involved in shaping neuropsychoanalysis, the merging of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, in order to promote a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to study brain and mind and facilitate the development of scientifically based psychotherapeutic approaches.

In recognition for her work, Cristina has received the NIH MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) Award, the McKnight Foundation Cognitive and Memory Disorders Award, the Hirschl-Weill Career Scientist Award, the NARSAD Independent Investigator Award, the Premio ATENA, the Golgi Medal, the 2018 Jacob K. Javits NYU Award, NYU Silver professorship, and she was elected in 2022 Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Event Quick Information

26 May, 2024
02:00 PM - 03:00 PM
Auditorium between buildings 2 and 3