MNESYS: Multiscale integrated approach to the study of the nervous system in health and disease

The project aims to develop new approaches for experimental and clinical neuroscience within the perspective of tailored and predictive precision medicine for the treatment of nervous system and behavioural disorders.

Esercitazione in laboratorio neuropsicologia_ progetto MNESYS PNRR

PNRR intervention area: Mission 4 – Education and Research

Component: 2 - From research to business

Investment: 1.3 - Extended partnerships with universities, research centres, businesses and research project funding

Duration: the project will end on 31/10/2025

Total project funding: €114,700,000

Proposer: Università degli Studi di Genova

An integrated approach to neuroscience and neuropharmacology

The project promotes a biomedical research programme based on an integrated interdisciplinary approach, focussing in particular on molecular, clinical and computational neuroscience, in order to overcome the fragmentation of research, also due to the different core competencies and professional figures involved in these fields.
The research, divided into sub-projects, will focus on a number of key topics to understand the functions of the nervous system, with the aim of identifying the main pathological factors in various diseases. The objectives are:

  • to identify and evaluate biomarkers that can be used to identify patients at pre-clinical or early stages of disease, enabling the development of personalised strategies to improve patient prognosis and quality of life
  • to identify new cellular and molecular targets for the development of innovative neuropharmacological tools
  • to create biologically inspired digital twins, driven by multimodal data and based on inherently multi-scale computational techniques
  • to characterise the complex structure of neural networks to understand the basis of visual perception, neural coding of movement, brain-body interaction, taking into account individual variability.

Project structure and participation

Foundation Composition

Universities and research institutes

  • Università degli Studi di Genova
  • Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna
  • Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
  • Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro"
  • Università degli Studi di Ferrara
  • Università degli Studi di Firenze
  • Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II"
  • Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata
  • Università degli Studi di Parma
  • Università degli Studi di Pavia
  • Università degli Studi di Verona
  • Università degli Studi Magna Graecia di Catanzaro
  • IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino
  • IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna - ISNB (Institute of Neurological Sciences of Bologna)
  • Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa
  • European Brain Research Institute Rita Levi Montalcini - EBRI

Private actors

  • Fondazione Telethon Ets
  • Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi Onlus
  • San Raffaele Roma Srl
  • Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù
  • Synlab Sdn Spa
  • Dompé Farmaceutici Spa
  • Alfasigma Spa
  • Asg Superconductors Spa
  • Takis Srl Scm Group Spa (Scm)

Project areas

  • Spoke 1 – Neurodevelopment, social cognition and interaction (leader: Università degli Studi di Parma )
  • Spoke 2 – Neuronal plasticity and connectivity (leader: Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli)
  • Spoke 3 – Neuronal Homeostasis and Brain-Environment Interaction (leader: Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II")
  • Spoke 4 – Perception, movement and brain-body interactions (leader: Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna)
  • Spoke 5 – Mood and Psychosis (leader: Università degli Studi di Ferrara)
  • Spoke 6 – Neurodegeneration, trauma and stroke (leader: Università degli Studi di Genova)
  • Spoke 7 – Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation (leader: Università degli Studi di Verona)

The University of Bologna participates in spoke 1, spoke 4 (leader), spoke 5, spoke 6 and spoke 7.

University of Bologna participants

Scientific coordinator

Professor Pietro Cortelli

Assistant professors


Research fellowships


PhD scholarships


Departments involved

  • Department of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering "Guglielmo Marconi" - DEI
  • Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences - DIBINEM
  • Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences - DIMEC
  • Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences - DIMEVET
  • Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology - FaBiT
  • Department of Mathematics - MAT
  • Department of Psychology "Renzo Canestrari" - PSI

The work carried out by the university research teams in this project included:

  • a study of families of patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in collaboration with the Institute of Neurological Sciences and the Bellaria Hospital in Bologna. Genetic samples were collected to map the complete DNA of 116 families with members affected by autism; this research revealed a rare genetic variation in the RAB11B gene, which plays a key role in several aspects of neurodevelopment
  • a multifactorial study to assess the risk of neuropathic pain in spinal cord injury patients using genetic, phenotypic, clinical and demographic data (approximately 200 patients)
  • a study of patients with signs of rare neurological disorders using genetic screening; the phenotype of the brain malformation in people with pallister-killian syndrome was also defined
  • activities involving the creation of advanced preclinical models for rare neurodegenerative diseases with a neurological phenotype and chronic pain (including alzheimer's dementia and parkinson's disease)
  • activities aimed at identifying risk factors, including systemic and lifestyle related risk factors, for the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases
  • the multi-parametric analysis of biological and clinical data, the study of brain networks and the development of innovative technologies for the treatment and understanding of neurological diseases, including 3D imaging techniques for the structural and molecular study of the nervous system.

Virtual reality, biomarkers and models for prevention and better patient care

The teams are trying to make treatments for psychotic and mood disorders more targeted and personalised. The method involves studying biomarkers with the aim of finding a drug that meets the specific needs of each patient.
Research into the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, with a focus on Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, is underway: neural networks, deep learning models and virtual reality experiences are being used to create models for studying brain connections.

Find out more