Luisa de Vivo wins the Career Development Award

Luisa De VivoLuisa De Vivo, a young Italian researcher who has worked abroad in the USA and Bristol for many years, has been awarded the prestigious Armenise Harvard Career Development Award. This is a $1 million grant ($200,000 per year for up to 5 years) of the Giovanni Armenise Harvard Foundation, rewarding the most promising young scientists to contribute to the creation of new areas of basic research in Italy in the biomedical field.

Thanks to the grant,
Luisa De Vivo will direct her own laboratory to study the effects of chronic sleep deprivation and substance abuse in teenagers. Her lab will be based at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Health Products of the University of Camerino, Italy.

The goal of the researcher’s work is to understand why sleep is so important for optimal brain function and our mental health. In detail, the project funded by the Giovanni Armenise Harvard Foundation will assess the long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation that can occur during adolescence, with particular attention to the risks of developing addictions to substance abuse and psychiatric comorbidities. Thus, the study assumes dual relevance, both scientifically and socially.

“Losing even a few hours of sleep can have negative effects on cognitive abilities and behavior. Disturbed sleep has been associated with several diseases, including neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. But why is sleep so important to our health? How does sleep loss lead to behavioral alterations? Starting with these questions, I sought to understand what happens to brain cells when we don’t get enough sleep. When I started my research in the United States, then continued in Bristol, UK, I used morphological parameters to define sleep loss at the level of a single cell and I was able to measure how synapses are remodeled differently in different physiological states. – said Luisa De Vivo – In the Armenise Laboratory of Sleep and Mental Health, at the University of Camerino, I plan to create a map of the biological mechanisms that regulate sleep and link sleep to altered brain development and neuropsychiatric disorders. In this way, we will be able to integrate behavioral, functional, morphological, and molecular measures to determine the long-term consequences of chronic sleep insufficiency during development, but also identify new strategies aimed at improving mental health. I hope that this work will lead to the identification of new strategies to prevent or counteract the negative consequences of sleep loss.”