Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York (USA)

Alessandro Furlan

Biosketch

Alessandro Furlan obtained a Bachelor degree in Biology from the University of Padova in 2007 and a Master degree in Neuroscience from the University of Trieste in 2009. He worked on his master thesis as an exchange student at Uppsala University. He then moved to Stockholm where he received his PhD from Karolinska Institute in 2016 for his work on the development of the peripheral nervous system in mouse, in the laboratory of Prof. Patrik Ernfors. His initial work focused on the identification of transcription factors regulating sympathetic nervous system development. In 2013, he authored a study describing the transcription factor Hmx1 as one of these key factors. Later, he used single cell RNA sequencing to obtain an unbiased, comprehensive map of the adult sympathetic thoracic ganglia and discovered the existence of molecularly-defined cell-types. In the same years, he also undertook the challenge of understanding the developmental origin of parasympathetic neurons. Together with Prof. Igor Adameyko he co-authored a study addressing a question long unanswered, finding that parasympathetic neurons arise from glial stem-cell like precursors, called Schwann cell precursors, located on developing nerves. Recently, he authored a Science paper describing a main contribution from Schwann cells to the origin of chromaffin cells in the adrenal gland, using a mix of genetic tools, ablation experiments and single cell RNA sequencing technology. For these contributions, he received the Dimitris N. Chorafas prize in 2016. He is a recipient of an EMBO long-term fellowship and of the Swedish Research Council research fellowship and he is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where he is studying how the inputs from the peripheral nervous system are integrated in forebrain areas using optogenetics and behavior paradigms.