Department of Biomedical Sciences

I am an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Neuroscience Unit in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cagliari, Italy. After obtaining my M.Sc. in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology, I specialised in Toxicology and obtained my PhD in Pharmacology of Drug Abuse at the University of Cagliari, under the supervision of Prof. Gaetano Di Chiara. During my career I have developed strong expertise in the fields of neurochemistry and behavioural pharmacology, with a major focus on the role of mesolimbic and mesocortical dopaminergic transmission in the origin of drug addiction. I have over 20 years of experience with in vivo microdialysis in rodents for monitoring brain monoamines following administration of drugs of abuse and natural rewards. I also have extensive knowledge of animal models of drug addiction with particular reference to the rewarding properties of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids. My knowledge in this research field particularly improved between 2002–2004 while spending several months as Guest Researcher in Dr. S.R. Goldberg’s team at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in Baltimore (MD, USA) and visiting the lab of Prof. R. Maldonado at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona). In 2014, I completed a Fulbright Research Scholar programme as a Visiting Scientist at the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI, La Jolla, CA, USA). At TSRI, I joined Dr. L.H. Parsons’ team to study the addictive properties of synthetic marijuana (i.e. JWH- 018) and genetic predisposition toward cannabinoid addiction in mice. Thus, I acquiredexpertise and autonomy in performing IVSA and in vivo brain microdialysis of endocannabinoids in mice. I have also been a member of the EU-MADNESS team looking at Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS). I’m currently PI and head of the research unit of National Projects on NPS investigating the pharmacological characterisation of NPS and I am Work Package Leader and Coordinating Assistant of the JUSTSO project (www.justso-eu.eu), a European project on novel synthetic opioids. I have undertaken editorial duties as a reviewer and reviewing editor for international journals. I have a total of 55 publications, 40 of which are in Q1 (SJR) journals with an average IF >5. According to Scopus: H index 22; total citations: 2026.

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