Sabina Berretta was born in Catania, Italy. She began her research training in anatomy and physiology at the Institute of Human Physiology (University of Catania, Italy) in 1983. In 1989, she received her Medical Degree (summa cum laude) from the Facolta’ di Medicina e Chirurgia, Universita’ di Catania, Italy. Her dissertation was titled, “Influences of the Basal Ganglia on the Reticular Formation”. In 1990, S. Berretta moved to the USA to work as postdoctoral fellow at M.I.T., in the laboratory directed by Dr. Ann M. Graybiel. Her studies demonstrated that stimulation of the motor cortex differentially affects gene expression in distinct neuronal populations. During her years at M.I.T. her long-standing interest in brain disorders deepened and began to focus on major psychoses, prompting S. Berretta to join McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School in 1997. In the laboratory directed by Dr. F.M. Benes, she developed a rodent ‘partial’ model designed to mimic dysfunctions of the amygdala in subjects with schizophrenia. In 1999, S. Berretta became Assistant Professor (Harvard Medical School) and Director of the Laboratory for Translational Neuroscience at McLean Hospital. She and her team are currently investigating the role of the amygdala and other temporal lobe regions in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Recent findings from their group point to substantial abnormalities affecting distinct proteoglycans, a main component of the brain extracellular matrix, in subjects with schizophrenia but not bipolar disorder. Marked increases in the number of glial cells expressing such proteoglycans, with concurrent reductions of perineuronal nets, ECM aggregates surrounding distinct neuronal populations, suggest anomalous regulation of extracellular matrix components. These results suggest for the first time that components of the extracellular matrix involved in neural development and adult plastic functions may play a key role in the pathophysiology of this disease.
Biography Updated on 6 February 2011