Cristina Maria Alberini is an Italian neuroscientist who is Professor of Neural Science at New York University. She works on the molecular bases of learning and memory. Alberini was elected to the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives in 2017. She was awarded the Lombardy Region Rosa Camuna Award in 2019.
Early life and education
Alberini studied biology at the University of Pavia. She completed undergraduate research in antibodies in vitro. She moved to the University of Genoa for her graduate studies, where she studied T-cell antigen receptors. She moved to Harvard Medical School, where she joined the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute. She later returned to the United States in 1991 to join the laboratory of Eric Kandel at Columbia University.
Research and career
In 1997 Alberini joined Brown University as an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience. She moved to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2001, where she was promoted to Professor in 2010. In 2011 Alberini moved to New York University, where she joined the Center for Neural Science. Alberini's research focusses on the molecular bases of memory and learning. To understand these she makes use of mammalian (e.g. mice) and invertebrate systems (e.g. Aplysia californica, a type of sea slug).
Her early work involved investigations into the impact of the insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-II) protein on long term memory. She showed that the brain produced more IGF-II when it is making memories, and that by increasing the amount of IGF-II it is possible to improve memory function and persistence. Similarly, she demonstrated that blocking the increase of IGF-II stopped the formation of long-term memory. She has continued to study the biological aspects of long-term memory and ways to minimise the fear associated with particular memories, which may be an approach to treat people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Alberini has demonstrated that early life experiences impact the biological function and development of brains. To show this, Alberini and co-workers investigated the biological aspects that are related to episodic memories. The authors conclude their paper with, "Memory development is important for thinking, future learning, planning, decision-making, problem solving, reflecting, imagining, and the overall capacity to form a sense of self. We suggest that regulation of infantile learning, especially during learning and memory critical periods, represents an extremely effective tool for preventing numerous psychopathologies".
Awards and honours
- 2011 Camillo Golgi Medal Award
- 2016 Prize for American Italian Relations
- 2017 Elected to the Council of The Harvey Society
- 2017 Elected to the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives
- 2018 Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professor
- 2019 Lombardy Region Rosa Camuna Award
Alberini is Co-Chair of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society and serves on the Council of The Harvey Society.
- Suzuki, Akinobu; Stern, Sarah A.; Bozdagi, Ozlem; Huntley, George W.; Walker, Ruth H.; Magistretti, Pierre J.; Alberini, Cristina (2011). "Astrocyte-neuron lactate transport is required for long-term memory formation". Cell. 144: 810–823. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.02.018.
- Alberini, Cristina (2009). "Transcription Factors in Long-Term Memory and Synaptic Plasticity". Physiological Reviews: 121–145. doi:10.1152/physrev.00017.2008.
- Alberini, Cristina (2005). "Mechanisms of memory stabilization: are consolidation and reconsolidation similar or distinct processes?". Trends in Neuroscience: 51–56. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2004.11.001.
Alberini is editor of the journal Hippocampus.