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Professor Pierluigi Nicotera FMedSci

Job Title
Scientific Director
German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Year elected



mechanisms of cell death in neurodegeneration and neurotoxicity

Section committee elected by

Neuroscience (including neurology and neurosurgery), physiology, pharmacological sciences

Pierluigi Nicotera, Director of the MRC Toxicology Unit, Leicester, has focused on mechanisms of cell death for more than 20 years. Two key studies described for the first time a calcium uptake mechanism and the identity of inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate sensitive calcium pools in liver nuclei. Professor Pierluigi then turned his attention towards the role of calcium in neuronal apoptosis and its relevance in neurological diseases, producing papers which represent milestones in our understanding of the mechanisms of neuronal cell death and excitotoxicity. He has continued to run a very active laboratory, focusing on understanding the calcium extrusion systems in neurones and their role in calcium overload and cell death. In this study he provides strong evidence that the delayed calcium deregulation in ischaemic neurones rather than relating to excessive calcium entry though channels, follows reduced efflux through the sodium/calcium exchanger by calpain-mediated cleavage of this transporter. Pierluigi Nicotera is clearly having a major influence on the national and international shaping of modern toxicology through his fundamental contribution to our understanding of mechanisms underlying neuronal cell death and his leadership and influence in toxicology worldwide.

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