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Paolo Bonifazi

TAU Principal Investigator



  • School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel Aviv University
  • Tel Aviv
  • 69978
  • Israel


  • (972)-3-6405637
  • (972)-3-6425787

Other information


PhD cum laude in Neurobiology, supervisor, Prof. V. Torre. Dissertation title: "Information processing in dissociated neuronal cultures of rat hippocampal neurons" (SISSA/ISAS, Trieste, Italy, December 2005)

Degree in Physics, 110/110 cum laude. Title of the thesis: "Studies for the development of a neural electronic prosthesis"; supervisors: prof. F.S. Pavone and prof. P. Fromherz. (University of Perugia, Italy, May 2001)

Research Experience

Present: Senior PostDoc in the group of Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob at the School of Physics and Astronomy in Tel Aviv University.

03/2007 – 02/2010: PostDoc in the group of Dr. Cossart at INMED, INSERM U29, Parc Scientifique de Luminy, Marseille (France)

02/2006 – 02/2007: PostDoc in the lab. of Dr. Hugh P.C. Robinson in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge (UK).

03/2002 – 01/2006: Ph.D. student in the lab. of prof. Vincent Torre in the Neurobiology Sector of the International School for Advanced Studies (ISAS/SISSA), Trieste (Italy).

01/2000 – 01/2001: Trainee in the lab. of prof. Fromherz at the Department of Membrane and Neurophysics of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried (Germany)


Marie Curie Actions, FP7- Intra-European Fellowships (IEF); title of the project "Circuit-hubs"; period March 2008 – February 2010

Research Interests

One of the main challenges of modern neuroscience is to link structure and dynamics of neuronal circuit. This is now possible thanks to new advances in theoretical and experimental studies which allow to bridge structural, effective and functional connectivity of neuronal assemblies. Using a multi-disciplinary approach combining calcium imaging, multi-electrode recordings, optogenetics, immunohistochemistry, graph theory and complex system we aim at characterizing neural circuits of different complexity in different patho-physiological conditions. Our studies are carried on dissociated cultures of cortical and cerebellar neurons. We use neuronal cultures since they represent a more accessible and general model of self-organized circuits where the topological complexity can be controlled, spanning from small isolated neuronal islands of few ten of cells (finite networks) to engineered circuits with predefined architecture. We use a data analysis approach inspired by complex networks to characterize the functional connectivity of the circuits in the attempt to identify central nodes or mechanisms regulating neuronal network dynamics and synchrony. In collaboration with the team of dr. Cossart at INMED (Marseille, France) these studies are extended to hippocampal and cortical circuits in-vitro (acute slices) and in-vivo, where the intact intact architectures of the networks are preserved. Concerning neurodegenerative pathologies, we aim at identifying impaired circuit dynamics in cerebellar networks extracted from murine models of ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) and Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS), with special focus on the contribution of glial cells on global neuronal dynamics.

Most relevant publications

  1. Luccioli S., Ben-Jacob E., Barzilai A., Bonifazi P., Torcini A. Clique of functional hubs orchestrates population bursts in developmentally regulated neural networks. PLoS Comput Biol. 2014 Sep 25;10(9):e1003823. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003823. eCollection 2014 Sep.
  2. Bonifazi P., Difato F., Massobrio P., Breschi GL, Pasquale V., Levi T., Goldin M., Bornat Y., Tedesco M., Bisio M., Kanner S., Galron R., Tessadori J., Taverna S., Chiappalone M. In vitro large-scale experimental and theoretical studies for the realization of bi-directional brain-prostheses. Front Neural Circuits. 2013 Mar 14;7:40. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00040. eCollection 2013.
  3. Carmeli C., Bonifazi P., Robinson HP, Small M. Quantifying network properties in multi-electrode recordings: spatiotemporal characterization and inter-trial variation of evoked gamma oscillations in mouse somatosensory cortex in vitro. Front Comput Neurosci. 2013 Oct 16;7:134. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2013.00134. eCollection 2013.
  4. Marissal T., Bonifazi P., Picardo MA, Nardou R., Petit LF, Baude A. , Fishell GJ, Ben-Ari Y., Cossart R. Pioneer glutamatergic cells develop into a morpho-functionally distinct population in the juvenile CA3 hippocampus. Nat Commun. 2012;3:1316. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2318.
  5. Picardo M., Guigue P., Bonifazi P., Batista-Brito R., Allene C., Ribas A., Fishell G., Baude A., Cossart R. Pioneer GABAergic cells comprise a subpopulation of hub neurons in the developing hippocampus. Neuron. 2011 Aug 25;71(4):695-709.
  6. Feldt S. 1, Bonifazi P. 1, and Cossart R. Dissecting functional connectivity of cortical microcircuits: experimental and theoretical insights. TINS, 2011 May;34(5):225-36 (1 equal contribution)
  7. Bonifazi P. 1, Goldin M. 1, Picardo M., Jorquera I., Bianconi G., Represa A., Ben-Ari Y. and Cossart R. GABAergic hub neurons orchestrate synchrony in developing hippocampal networks. Science. 2009 Dec 4;326(5958):1419-24 (1 equal contribution)
  8. Allène C, Cattani A, Ackman JB, Bonifazi P, Aniksztejn L, Ben-Ari Y, Cossart R. Sequential generation of two distinct synapse-driven network patterns in developing neocortex. J Neurosci. 2008 Nov 26; 28(48):12851-63.
  9. Mazzoni A., Broccard F., Garcia E., Bonifazi P., Ruaro M.E. and Torre V. On the dynamics of the spontaneous activity in neuronal networks. PLoS ONE. 2007 May 9.
  10. Ban J., Bonifazi P., Pinato G., Broccard F., Studer L., Torre V. and Ruaro M.E. ES-derived neurons form functional networks in vitro. Stem Cells. 2006 Nov 16.
  11. Bonifazi P.1, Ruaro M.E.1 and Torre V. Statistical properties of information processing in neuronal networks. Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Dec. 22 (11): 2953-64 (1 equal contribution)
  12. Ruaro M.E., Bonifazi P., Torre V. Towards the neurocomputer: Image processing and pattern recognition with neuronal cultures. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 52, pp. 371-383, 2005
  13. Bonifazi P., Fromherz P. Silicon Chip for Electronic Communication between Nerve Cells by Noninvasive Interfacing and Analog-Digital Processing. Advanced Materials 14 (2002) 1190-1193.

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The BrainBow project acknowledges the financial support of the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme within the Seventh Framework Programme for Research of the European Commission, under FET-Open grant number: FP7-284772.