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Dr. F. Paolo Di Giorgio


F. Paolo Di Giorgio, PhD
Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Laboratory Head
CHBS, WKL-125.6.07
Novartis Pharma AG, Werk Klybeck
Klybeckstrasse 141
CH-4057 Basel / Switzerland

E-mail francesco.di_giorgio
Phone +41 61 696 30 84
Fax +41 61 696 33 70
Paolo Di Giorgio is a Laboratory Head in the Department of Neuroscience at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.
During his doctoral studies in the laboratory of Kevin Eggan at Harvard University he established one of the first embryonic stem (ES) cell models to study neurodegenerative diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). For this study, ES cells were derived from a mouse model of ALS, which overexpress a pathological variant of the SOD1 protein that is known to cause disease in a subset of patients. These cells were then differentiated into motor neurons in vitro. After long-term culture, these motor neurons exhibited signs of neurodegeneration including the presence of inclusions and decreased survival relative to controls. Furthermore, in collaboration with Tom Maniatis' group at Harvard University, he identified a non-cell-autonomous effect of glial cells overexpressing the SOD1G93A protein on motor neuron survival. Similar finding were recapitulated using human ES cell derived motor neurons. He was able to reproducibly generate a supply of human spinal motor neurons and demonstrated that they are selectively sensitive to the toxic effect of glial cells carrying an ALS causing SOD1 mutation.
After his studies at Harvard University, in 2008, he moved to the Salk Institute in San Diego in Fred Gage’s laboratory, where he worked on establishing a protocol for differentiation of human and mouse ES cells into neurons of the dentate gyrus to study adult neurogenesis.
His laboratory is currently working to establish a robust and reproducible protocol to directly differentiate human ES cells into neurons. This system, will allow to generate in vitro models for neurodegenerative diseases that will be utilized to elucidate the diseases' mechanisms and eventually to develop screening assays for the drug discovery process.

For further information, see

Selected recent publications

  • Di Giorgio FP, Boulting G. and Eggan K. (2008). Human embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons are sensitive to the toxic effect of glial cells carrying an ALS-causing SOD1 mutation. Cell Stem Cells 3:637-48.
  • Ichida JK, Blanchard J, Lam K, Son EY, Chung JE, Egli D, Loh KM, Carter AC, Di Giorgio FP, Koszka K, Huangfu D, Akutsu H, Liu DR, Rubin LL. and Eggan K. (2009). A small-molecule inhibitor of tgf-Beta signaling replaces sox2 in reprogramming by inducing nanog. Cell Stem Cell 5:491-503.
  • Yu DX, Di Giorgio FP, Yao J, Marchetto MC, Brennand K, Wright R, Mei A, McHenry L, Lisuk D, Grasmick JM, Silberman P, Silberman G, Jappelli R, Gage FH. (2014). Modeling hippocampal neurogenesis using human pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cell Reports 2:295-310.
  • Pecho-Vrieseling E, Rieker C, Fuchs S, Bleckmann D, Esposito MS, Botta P, Goldstein C, Bernhard M, Galimberti I, Müller M, Lüthi A, Arber S, Bouwmeester T, van der Putten H, Di Giorgio FP. (2014). Transneuronal propagation of mutant huntingtin contributes to non-cell autonomous pathology in neurons. Nat Neurosci. 17:1064-72.