Foto del docente

Gastone Castellani

Full Professor

Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine - DIMES

Academic discipline: FIS/07 Applied Physics

Curriculum vitae


Curriculum Vitae
Gastone C. Castellani
Università degli Studi di Bologna
Dip. Fisica Viale B.Pichat 6/2 40123 Bologna (BO) Italy
Tel 039 051 2095120
Institute for Brain & Neural Systems,
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912 - 1843 US
Tel: (401) 863-2585

Current Position             Professor : Physics (SSD FIS/07)
                     Dipartimento di Fisica Università degli Studi di Bologna

Associate Professor (Research) Institute for  Brain and Neural Systems :Brown University Providence R.I. (USA)

Scientific Curriculum of Dr. Gastone Castellani


The scientific interests of Dr. Gastone Castellani are rooted into the arguments that have been faced during the study in Biology and Physics. The initial interests were focused on problems regarding X ray diffraction of proteins, modelling of immune and neural system and biological effects of electromagnetic fields.
This last research line has been developed by Dr Castellani with an experimental approach where the behaviour of in vitro cellular systems was characterized as response to an applyed electromagnetic field.
Among the obtained results, one of particular relevance is the behaviour of human lymphocytes stimulated by Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF-EMF). It was demonstrated a significative variation of the index of lymphocyte proliferation that resulted increased in presence of ELF-EMF.
The activity on X ray diffraction from proteins has been developed during the period that Dr. Gastone Castellani was at  the  Synchrotron Elettra (Trieste) before the activation of the device, thus the research activity was centred on software development that have been subsequently extensively utilised.
It is important to mention the results obtained by a combined approach with X ray diffraction and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) on the structural and thermodynamic properties of collagen  as a function of calcification and ageing. In particular it was possible to point out an increase in the melting temperature for the transition between random and coiled coil of collagen.
This activity fuelled an interest on the ageing processes that produced the establishment of several collaboration and in particular with the group of Prof Claudio Franceschi and the National Center foraging research (INRCA) .
During this research, the main result was the discovery that the memory T cell are increasing with age if observed over the entire human lifespan ( from newborn to centenarians) as resulting from the increase in antigenic pressure.
The collaboration with Prof Franceschi was further developed, also in the frame work of a project supported by the National Health Institute on the HIV where Dr Castellani was the coordinator of the data analysis. The main result showed that HIV non developing  people were resistent to develop apoptotic processes.
The interest for  this kind of problems stimulated further studies by Dr Castellani towards memory developement of biological systems such as immune and neural system and their characterization by mathematical modelling.
On this basis it was possible to start a productive collaboration with the lab for neural sciences at Brown University directed by the Physics Nobel Prize Prof. Leon N. Cooper. The research activity in this field is in a rapid evolution also now, but some important results have been reached.
Among these we mention the characterization of the solutions of the BCM Bienenstock, Cooper, Munro) learning rule for the orientation selectivity development in the primary visual cortex neurons and the  development of a predictive biophysical model that generalize the theory and gives the possibility to perform precise experimental measurements ( conductance of AMPA and NMDA ion channels) for the quantification of the learning process at single cell and single molecule level. 
The research activity of Dr Castellani is centred on Biophysics mainly on cellular biophysics and application to Medicine and Biotechnology. For this purpose Dr. Gastone Castellani has, within the Physics Department of the Università di Bologna, supervised the set-up of a laboratory for physical measurements on biological systems (electrical and optical measurements).
A recent interest of Dr Castellani is the application of Complex Network theory in Biology, that has produced an interesting method for the quantification of the communication efficiency among lymphocytes. Another relevant result is a technique for the reconstruction of genomic network from experimental data that has been internationally awarded  ( VPR prize and Invited Speaker to British Society for Immunology).  This method allowed, for the first time, the reconstruction of the C-MYC ( a proto-oncogene ) activated network that is important for the induction of a series of malignancies and tumours.
The results that the Dr Castellani lab is producing are having important implication for the comprehension of the Aging process at a molecular level and are offering relevant Biotechnological applications. During the last years  Dr Castellani is studying the biological effect of low dose ionizing radiation and in particular on the Biophysical mechanism of the so called “bystander effect”. Moreover Dr Castellani is upgrading the lab with various Biophotonic devices for the single living cell dynamic observation as response to various perturbations ( gene activation and/or silencing, oxidative stress, environmental and stochastic variation). This kind of research is very promising especially for the elucidation of the so called “biological switches” that are the building blocks for many biotechnological application in Systems and Synthetic Biology.

Previous Positions    1996 Teaching Assistant  of Physics Università degli Studi di Bologna (Veterinary Faculty)

1995 Postdoctoral Fellow CNR (Centro Nazionale Ricerche) Italy

1988 –1990 Visiting Scientist SIS (Società Italiana Sincrotrone) Trieste Italy

Education                May 1995    PhD Physics Bologna University.
Field: Biophysics
Final score Excellent

March 1992 Sc.M. Physics Bologna University
Field: Biophysics
Final score 110/110

December 1988  Sc.M. Biology Bologna University
Field: Chemistry-Biophysics
Final score 105/110

Grants                         2000-2007 Murst ex 60%
2000-2003 EU Project RAMP on  effects of electromagnetic waves.on neurons
2002  FIRB Project  on synaptic plasticity (3 yrs)
2003 Del Monte Foundation for the set-up of a  Biophysics Laboratory
2003  Brown University : Genetic  Networks Dynamics
2004 GEHA EU (Genetich of Healthy Ageing) project as partecipant.
2005 NIGMS (National Institute of General Medical Sciences USA) Global analysis of myc-induced network
2007 INFN (National Institute of Nuclear Physics) SHEILA project
2007 MarkAge EU project as partecipant
2008 MyoAge EU project as partecipant

As follow-up of his research activity and on the basis of the obtained results, Dr Castellani has been invited to contribute as invited speaker to a number of national and international conferences (more than 50). Among these talks, we can mention : Italian Physics Society(SIF), INFN Legnaro National Laboratory (LNL) Roma University  (La Sapienza) di Milano (Bicocca)  Catania and Palermo. University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK)  British Conference on Immunology and  Dana Farber Cancer Institute  Harvard University, Boston MA USA