Scheda programma d'esame
Academic year2020/21
PeriodSemester 1

Obiettivi di apprendimento
Learning outcomes

Dato che la lingua ufficiale del corso è l'inglese, potete consultare tutte le informazioni presenti sulla versione in inglese.


We are entering into a new era in which a fundamental understanding of neurodevelopmental biology and regeneration will play a critical role. In this course, neural stem cells in different organisms will be examined in terms of their molecular, cellular, and potential therapeutic properties. Special emphasis will be given to the unique role of neural stem cells in building the human cerebral cortex. Genetic reprogramming, directed differentiation, and somatic conversion methodologies will be critically evaluated.


Assessment criteria of knowledge

During the examination the student will be assessed on his/her knowledge and deep critical understanding of the topics dealt with during the course with a focus on the student's ability to link different topics in a comprehensive view.


The student will be able to critically evaluate neural stem cell contribution to unique developmental processes and to recapitulate the required instructions/stimuli to propagate neural stem cell population in vitro or direct them towards specific neural fates under defined conditions.

Assessment criteria of skills

Oral exam, with discussion of the topics analysed during the class and critical discussions of the original articles provided.


Critical ability to evaluate neural stem cell contribution to developmental processes or therapeutic approaches.

Assessment criteria of behaviors

Acquired skills will be tested during discussion on lecture and final exam.


Knowledge of cell, molecular, or neurodevelopmental biology is recommended. General stem cell biology background

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons and paper discussions.



1. Introduction to Neural Stem Cells (NSCs) and neurogenesis. How to build a brain. Historical perspective.

2. Early neurogenesis in mammalian development: initial regional specification of NSCs; different types of NSCs. Neuroepithelial cells and radial glial cells. Early neurogenic phase and symmetric versus asymmetric divisions.

3. Late neurogenesis in mammalian development: middle and late neurogenic phases, gliogenesis. Outer radial glia in human cortical development and evolution.

4. Adult SVZ neurogenic niche: structure and definition of the NSC component.

5. Physiological relevance of adult SVZ neurogenesis: olfactory neurons, relevance in human. Adult hippocampal SGZ neurogenic niche: structure and definition of the NSC component, rodent versus human. Physiological relevance of adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

6. NSCs in vitro: tissue-derived systems, neurospheres and adherent cell culture.

7. NSCs and neurogenesis in vitro: pluripotent stem cell-derived neural systems. Neural induction and directed neural differentiation.

8. NSCs in disease: neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

9. Brain tumors and tumor initiating cells.

10. Regenerative approaches to the CNS: cell transplantation in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and spinal cord injury.

11. Advanced 3D neural systems: retina and brain organoids.

12. Direct reprogramming to neural fates.



No textbook is required for the course. Given that much of the material in this class will be contemporary, there is no comprehensive textbook that adequately covers all topics. As a result, the main reference material will be the Lecture slides themselves. Lecture slides will be available on e-learning together with select reviews and original articles.

For a good general resource covering early neurodevelopment, the following Text books are suggested:

  • Scott F. Gilbert and Michael J. Barresi. Developmental Biology (XI Edition)
  • Dan H. Sanes, Thomas A. Reh, William A. Harris. Development of the Nervous System (III Edition)
Non-attending students info

All the information and didactic material will be provided on the website of the course.

Assessment methods

Oral exam in English or Italian, up to the student.

Updated: 30/08/2020 18:21