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Our Lab Team

Current Lab Members

  • I am interested in studying molecular mechanisms of cortical developmental malformations in neurodevelopmental disorders and psychiatric diseases. By establishing animal models of human brain disorders and recruiting variety of molecular biology, genetic, morphology as well as transcriptomics methods, I hope my study will facilitate understanding the basics of neuopsychiatric diseases and developing time efficient therapeutic strategies.
  • Research Interests
    • Mental Disorders
    • Brain
    • Embryo, Mammalian
    • Interneurons
    • Neurons
    • Synapses
    • Neurodegenerative Diseases
    • Organizers, Embryonic
    • Pluripotent Stem Cells
    • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
    • Neural Stem Cells
    • Dopaminergic Neurons
    • GABAergic Neurons
    Dr. Micali is associate research scientist in Rakic lab. He received his Master Degree in Biology from the State University of Lecce-Italy in 2002, and then his Ph.D in Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology from the State University of Milan-Italy in 2006. From 2003 to 2008, he worked at the Molecular Genetics unit led by Professor Francesco Blasi, at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute (Milan). He was interested in studying the role of TALE transcription factors (Pbx, Prep and Meis) in controlling cell survival and proliferation genes during mammalian development, using mouse and human “diseased” genetics models, such as Down Syndrome patient derived cells, and cancer cells. In 2008, as post-doc fellow, Dr. Micali joined Professor Pier Paolo Di Fiore's lab, at IFOM Istitute, Milan, where he worked on the role of Notch signaling in breast cancer. From 2010 to 2017, Dr. Micali received a post-doctoral training in molecular neurodevelopmental biology at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD), Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore-USA. Here, he worked in Dr. Ronald McKay's lab on modeling corticogenesis in vitro and defining the cellular and transcriptional dynamics as human neural stem cells (NSCs) progress throughout neurogenesis. At LIBD, Dr. Micali studied the key molecular steps that control the generation of functional cortical neurons from NSCs derived from fetal mouse and human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), and the regulatory events that during corticogenesis control the different developmental neural lineages. Major interest was dedicated to understand the role of fate determinant molecules, such as FGF2, BMPs and WNTs in specifying NSC states and neurogenesis. Dr. Micali has also been involved in projects to define and systematically analyze developmental variation in multiple hPSC lines. He collaborated with AstraZeneca Neuroscience in a genetic study to screen schizophrenia patient specific iPSC derived neurons. In this pipeline, he was directly involved in the development of new cellular assays. From July 2017, Dr. Micali is in Professor Pasko Rakic's lab, where he is continuing to study the regulatory mechanisms of radial glial cell (RGC) specification, in particular cortical area specification (frontal vs occipital and dorsal vs ventral forebrain RGC specification) and zone specificity (VZ vs SVZ and CP). Dr. Micali is working to identify new neuronal subtype precursors during the development of neocortex in rodents, non-human primates (NHP) and humans. His current focus is on the identification and characterization of the cellular and transcriptional dynamics underlying the species-specific differences in corticogenesis.
  • Research Interests
    • Central Nervous System
    • Neurodegenerative Diseases
    Many years of experience in worldwide laboratories (Russia, France, Norway and Hungary) lend to expertise in the methods of scanning and transmission electron microscopy including pre- and post-embedding immunolabeling. This also let me introduce to Yale the method of three-dimensional reconstruction of large cell fragments such as neuron cell bodies or processes from serial electron micrographs.


  • Graduate Student

    Summary of Research and Future Directions: My interest is in how neurons change their connectivity and structure during the "critical period" of development and how this may be applicable to human disorders. Currently, I am investigating the possibility of inducing critical period-like synaptic plasticity in an adult
  • Md/PhD Student

    I am interested in developmental dynamics, i.e. changes to the neural stem cell niche as development proceeds through time. I am interested in neural molecular identity, differentiation, and cell fate restriction in early cortical progenitors. My thesis work focuses on the interactions between both novel and well-established transcriptional regulators in cortex development.


Former Lab Members

Graduate Students (GS) and Postdoctoral Fellows (PF) in chronological order
Richard Nowakowski, GS, Prof. & Chair, Neurobiology, UFL, Tallahassee
Carla Shatz, PF, Professor & Director, Bio-X, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Ivica Kostovic, PF, Director, Croatian Brain Institute, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Pat Levitt, PF, Professor, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, USC, LA, CA
Anthony La Mantia, GS, Prof. & Chair, Neuroscience Inst., GWU, Washington, DC
Nada Zecevic, GS, Professor, UConn Health Center, Farmington, CT
Jean-Pierre Bourgeois, PF, Researcher CNRS, Pasteur Institute, Paris, France
Rodrigo Kuljis, PF, Prof. & Chair, Neurology, University of Miami, FL
Robert Williams, PF, Prof. & Chair, Computational Genomics, UTHSC, Memphis, TN
Douglas Meinecke, PF, Chief, Developmental Neuroscience Program, NIMH, Bethesda, MD
Richard Cameron, PF, Assoc. Professor, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA
Hitoshi Komuro, PF, Assoc. Professor, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH
Eva Anton, PF, Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
David Kornack, PF, Assoc. Professor, University of Rochester, NY
Maria Donoghue, PF, Assoc. Professor, GWU, Washington, DC
Chia-Yi (Alex) Kuan, GS, PF, Associate Professor, UC, Cincinnati, OH
Tarik Haydar, PF, Professor, Boston University, MA
Nenad Sestan, GS, PF, Professor, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Skirmantas Janusonis, PF, Assoc. Professor, UC Santa Barbara, CA
Matthew Sarkisian, PF, Assist. Professor, UFL, Gainesville, FL
Xiu-Xin Liu, PF, Asst. Professor. University of Rochester, NY
Joshua Breunig, GS, PF, Assist. Professor, Cedars-Sinai MC, LA, CA
Kazue Hashimoto-Torii, PF, Assist. Professor, CNMC at GWU, Washington, DC
Masaaki Torii, PF, Assist. Professor, CNMC at GWU, Washington, DC