My group investigates the mechanisms driving circadian disruption in the prodromal stages of neurodegenerative diseases. We focus on the interplay of different cell-types (neurons and glia), brain areas and molecular pathways specifying circadian function and their mys-regulation in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.
I received my MSc degree in Medical Biotechnology from the University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy. After obtaining a PhD degree in Neuroscience from SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies) in Trieste, Italy, I joined Michael Hastings group in the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK) to study the mechanisms of circadian time-keeping in the brain. I have pioneered viral delivery of genetically encoded indicators for live imaging of circadian calcium, voltage and gene expression, as well as pharmacogenetic manipulation of neurons of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) (Brancaccio et al. 2013, Neuron; Brancaccio et al J. Neurosc. 2014). In 2014, I established a novel independent research line addressing the role of neuronal-astrocytic interplay in circadian pacemaking. In this work, I have demonstrated that astrocytes of the SCN can impose their intrinsic tempo to the living mouse and described the underlying molecular and inter-cellular mechanisms (Brancaccio et al. 2017, Neuron; Hastings MH, Maywood ES, Brancaccio M., Nature Reviews Neurosc. 2018; Brancaccio et al. Science 2019). In October 2018, I joined the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London as a Lecturer and a Fellow of the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK-DRI) to study the mechanisms driving circadian mys-regulation in the early stages of dementia. Here, I use a wide range of cutting-edge techniques, including live imaging and in vivo gene therapy to both investigate and harness circadian brain function with the aim of preventing/delaying dementia onset and progression.
et al., 2019, Cell-autonomous clock of astrocytes drives circadian behavior in mammals, Science, Vol:363, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:187-192
Hastings MH, Maywood ES, Brancaccio M, 2018, Generation of circadian rhythms in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Vol:19, ISSN:1471-003X, Pages:453-469
et al., 2017, Astrocytes control circadian timekeeping in the suprachiasmatic nucleus via glutamatergic signaling, Neuron, Vol:93, ISSN:0896-6273, Pages:1420-1435.e5
et al., 2015, The regulatory factor ZFHX3 modifies circadian function in SCN via an AT motif-driven axis, Cell, Vol:162, ISSN:0092-8674, Pages:607-621
et al., 2014, Network-Mediated Encoding of Circadian Time: The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) from Genes to Neurons to Circuits, and Back, Journal of Neuroscience, Vol:34, ISSN:0270-6474, Pages:15192-15199
et al., 2013, A Gq-Ca2+ Axis Controls Circuit-Level Encoding of Circadian Time in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, Neuron, Vol:78, ISSN:0896-6273, Pages:714-728