Foto del docente

Lucia Carboni

Associate Professor

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology

Academic discipline: BIO/14 Pharmacology

Curriculum vitae

Lucia Carboni



1985-1990 Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology cum laude (thesis work in molecular biology on oestrogen regulation of prodynorphin gene expression in rat hypothalamus and hypophysis, with prof S. Ferri), School of Pharmacy, University of Bologna, Italy. 1989-1990: research assistant, Department of Pharmacology, University of Bologna, studying the regulation of opioid gene expression in cell lines using the antisense technology.

1991-1992 Fellowship from Glaxo ("Pharmacological modulation of neuronal calcium channels").

1992-1995 Ph.D. programme in Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Catania, Italy ("Evaluation of the affinity of selective ligands for opioid receptors"). Thesis work was carried out in the laboratory of prof. S. Spampinato, Department of Pharmacology, University of Bologna. In 1995, visiting scientist at Glaxo Research Laboratories, Department of Pharmacology, Verona, Italy, studying the localisation of Stress Activated Protein Kinases (SAPKs) in the rat central nervous system with neuroanatomical techniques.


1991 Lions Club Prize for top five graduating students of the School of Pharmacy.

2003 Award from the Italian Pharmacological Society and the Italian Association of Pharmaceutical Companies for a research paper.

2006 GlaxoSmithKline Exceptional Science Award for setting up a method for measuring cytokine levels in rat brain and serum.

2007 GlaxoSmithKline Silver Award for developing novel approaches to validate targets in the inflammatory hypothesis area of major depressive disorder.

Research Positions

1996 Post-doctoral fellowship with prof. F. Benfenati, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena, Italy, investigating the involvement of SAPKs in synaptic function.

1997-1999 Research scientist in the Molecular Pharmacology laboratory in Glaxo Wellcome Medicine Research Centre, Verona, Italy. Work on MAPKinases in nicotine dependence models with neuroanatomical and molecular biology techniques.

2000-2004 Senior research scientist in the Molecular Medicine Department in Psychiatry CEDD, GlaxoSmithKline, Verona, Italy. Work on transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of brain and serum after pharmacological treatments or in animal models of psychiatric disorders.

2004-2008 Principal scientist in the Behavioural Biochemistry laboratory in the Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery in Psychiatry, GlaxoSmithKline, Verona, Italy. Work on discovering hormonal and biochemical correlates to support lead optimisation in drug discovery and to characterise animal models of disease. European Union Sixth Framework Programme work in 2004-2007, investigating the molecular mechanism of action of pro-serotonergic and pro-noradrenergic antidepressants by combining large-scale clinical pharmacogenomic studies on depressed patients with preclinical investigations on animal models.

2008-2010 Principal scientist in the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Discovery Performance Unit, GlaxoSmithKline, Verona, Italy. Work on the identification and analysis of peripheral biomarkers in pre-clinical models and in clinical studies.

2011: Visiting scientist at the Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine at Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy, with prof. F. Conti, investigating the localization of GABA transporters in rat cerebral cortex.

2012: Assistant Professor, 2022: Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, investigating the molecular mechanisms of major depression, Alzheimer's disease, and drug dependence.

Research activity

My scientific experience dates back to 1989, when I started to work for my graduation thesis, and continued during the following eight years as a research assistant, PhD student and post-doctoral fellow in different Academic centres. In the following years I carried out my research projects as a pharmaceutical company scientist and at the University.

During the years 1989-1994, during the work for my graduation and PhD theses, my research activities were aimed at analysing the role of opioid peptides in cell cultures and in and native tissues, with molecular biology techniques, such as RNAse protection assay, with antisense technologies, and with radioimmunoassays. In addition, during this time frame, I also evaluated pharmacologic affinities of new compounds using receptor binding techniques.

In the years 1995-1999, during post-doctoral fellowship and as GSK research scientist, my studies were directed at investigating different MAP kinase isoforms in the rat central nervous system, employing neuroanatomical techniques, such as in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry, and biochemistry techniques, such as Western blot, immunoprecipitation and in vitro phosphorylation.

In the years 2000-2004 in the Molecular Medicine Department my research activities were mainly aimed at discovering new pharmacological targets for psychiatric diseases and at identifying peripheral molecular markers in animal models. I worked in a group that mainly used large-scale analysis technologies, such as expression proteomics based on 2D electrophoresis and transcriptional analysis, but also employed molecular technology techniques, such as real-time RT-PCR.

In the years 2004-2008 as principal scientist in the Behavioural Biochemistry laboratory, the aim of my work was delivering biochemical assays to support lead optimisation and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationships. In addition, I also performed studies to characterise psychiatric disease models and transgenic animals to investigate the pathophysiological substrates of disease.

In 2004-2007 I coordinated preclinical activities in GSK in an integrated project financed by the European Union. The integrated project was carried out by a network of 20 European Academic and industrial centres with the aim of characterising molecular responses to antidepressant treatments in patients and in animal models, with genome-based technologies. I was mainly involved in proteomic and transcriptomic investigations performed in different rat models of major depressive disorder with and without antidepressant treatments.

Within GSK, I was a member of the Psychiatry HiTDIP, which supported the transfer of results obtained in genetic analyses in depressed patients into new drug discovery programmes.

In the years 2008-2010, in the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Discovery Performance Unit, I investigated peripheral biomarkers after pharmacological treatment in pre-clinical discovery animal models of psychiatric disorders. I also designed and supported biomarker investigations in clinical studies.

Since 2012 I carry out my research activities in the Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology at Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, investigating the molecular mechanisms of psychiatric and neurological diseases including major depressive disorder, addiction, and Alzheimer's disease.

Teaching activity

I supervised students performing their thesis work in GlaxoSmithKline, in collaboration with the Universities of Verona, Modena e Reggio Emilia, and Bologna. I supervised the work of a PhD student from the University of Birmingham (UK). I presented seminars to students of the Universities of Modena e Reggio Emilia and Bologna. I teach Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy courses and act as thesis supervisor. I am responsible of an Erasmus + exchange.

Research Accolades

I authored many research articles and presented original contributions to scientific meetings. I act as a peer reviewer for international journals. I am Editor of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and Frontiers in Neurogenomics (specialty section of Frontiers in Genetics, Frontiers in Neuroscience and Frontiers in Neurology)

I am a fellow of the Italian Pharmacological Society; of the Italian Society for Neuroscience, which is part of the Forum of European Neuroscience Societies and of the International Brain Research Organization; of the Society for Neuroscience.

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