Giuliano Iurilli

Researcher Tenure Track - Principal Investigator

Research Lines

Systems Neurobiology


CNCS@UniTn Trento


Social profiles



Giuliano Iurilli received a M.Sc. in Biological Sciences from the University of Pisa and a PhD in Robotics, Neuroscience and Nanotechnologies from IIT in Genova under the supervision of Paolo Medini (2011). During his PhD, he used in vivo patch-clamp recordings, two-photon imaging and optogenetics to investigate the plasticity of the rodent’s visual cortex and the processing of multisensory inputs in primary sensory cortices of the mouse. After being awarded a Long-Term Fellowship from the Human Frontiers Science Program, he joined for a postdoc the lab of Bob Datta in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School (2012-2018). Here he investigated the rules for processing innately relevant vs neutral olfactory cues in the olfactory cortex of the mouse. To this aim he employed silicon probes for high-density electrophysiological recordings. He also built a two-photon system for performing microendoscopic imaging of deep brain structures and developed novel behavioral tasks for investigating ethological decision-making in mice.

At Harvard Medical School Giuliano was also appointed Head Teaching Assistant for the course "Neurobiology" for Harvard and M.I.T. MD/PhD strudents.

Currently, Giuliano is leading the Armenise-Harvard Systems Neurobiology Lab at the Center for Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences (IIT-CNCS). The IT-CNCS is hosted by the Center for Mind/Brain Science (CIMeC) of the University of Trento.


Neurobiological principles of cognitive processes

Understanding the biological mechanisms that support cognitive processes is key not only to satisfying our scientific curiosity, but also to developing actionable therapeutic strategies. This project searches for the biological principles that inform behavior by means of cutting-edge techniques such as in vivo two-photon imaging of the activity of population of neurons, in vivo high-density electrophysiological recording of hundreds of neurons and in vivo patch-clamp recordings of the synaptic inputs to single neurons in behaving rodents. The project also exploits state-of-the-art optogenetics and pharmacogenetics tools in order to selectively manipulate the activity of genetically-identified neurons and test their causal role in specific behaviors. Finally, the project will develop new tools for analyzing innate and trained behaviors in order to discover and model behavioral rules. Our final goal is to determine how neurobiological principles lawfully constrain behavioral rules.

If you share with us a passion for this problem, feel free to contact me. Master thesis fellowship, PhD and postdoc positions are available. Successful lab members are generous and passionate and have a solid quantitative mindset, keen biological intuition and good programming skills (Matlab and/or Python). Prior wet-lab experience or familiarity with computational modeling is a plus, however it is not required. 

Selected Publications

First author publications

1. Iurilli G.* and Datta S.R.

Population coding in an innately relevant olfactory area

Neuron 93(5) (2017)

2. Olcese U.*, Iurilli G.* and Medini P.

Cellular and synaptic architecture of multisensory integration in mouse neocortex

Neuron 79(3), 579-93 (2013)

3. Iurilli G.*, Olcese U.* and Medini P.

Preserved Excitatory-Inhibitory Balance of Cortical Synaptic Inputs following Deprived Eye Stimulation after a Saturating Period of Monocular Deprivation in Rats

PloS One 8(12):e82044 (2013)

4. Iurilli G.*, Ghezzi D., Olcese U., Lassi G., Tucci V., Nazzaro C., Tonini R., Benfenati F. and Medini P.

Sound-driven synaptic inhibiton in primary visual cortex

Neuron 73(4), 814-28 (2012)

5. Iurilli G.*, Benfenati F. and Medini P.

Loss of visually-driven synaptic responses in layer 4 regular spiking neurons of rat visual cortex in absence of competing inputs

Cerebral Cortex 22(9), 2171-81 (2011)


Other publications

1. Mao Y.T., Zhu J.X., Hanamura K., Iurilli G., Datta S.R. and Dalva M.B.,

Filopodia Conduct Target Selection in Cortical Neurons Using Differences in Signal Kinetics of a Single Kinase

Neuron 98(4) (2018)

2. Wiltschko A.B.*, Johnson M.J., Iurilli G., Peterson R.E., Katon J.M., Pashkovski S.L., Abraira V.E., Adams R.P. and Datta S.R.

Mapping sub-second structure in mouse behavior

Neuron 88(6) (2015)

3. Petrini E.M.*, Ravasenga T., Hausrat T.J., Iurilli G., Olcese U., Racine V., Sibarita J.B., Jacob T.C., Moss S.J, Benfenati F., Medini P., Kneussel M., and Barberis A.

Synaptic recruitment of gephyrin regulates surface GABAA receptor dynamics for the expression of inhibitory LTP

Nature Communications 5:3921, (2014)

4. Blau A.*, Murr A., Wolff S., Sernagor E., Medini P., Iurilli G., Ziegler C. and Benfenati F.

Flexible, all-polymer microelectrode arrays for the capture of cardiac and neuronal signals

Biomaterials 2011 32(7) pp. 1778-86


  • Giovanni Armenise-Harvard Foundation Career Development Award (2019-2024)
  • Leonard and Isabelle Goldenson Postdoctoral Fellow (2018)
  • Human Frontiers Science Program Long-Term Fellow (2013)