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Spillantini Lab



Maria Grazia Spillantini is Professor of Molecular Neurology in the Clinical School of the University of Cambridge. She was born in Arezzo, Italy, grew up in Caprese Michelangelo and Pieve Santo Stefano and attended high school in Sansepolcro. After receiving a Laurea in Biological Sciences, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Florence, she pursued research at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology of the University of Florence, at the Instituto Superiore di Sanita’ in Rome, at the Unité de Neurobiologie of the INSERM in Paris and at the Molecular Neurobiology Unit of the Medical Research Council in Cambridge.

In 1987 she moved to the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where first, working in Dr Michel Goedert’s group, she obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology from Cambridge University and later worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Sir Aaron Klug with a short period at the Institute of Cell Biology of the CNR in Rome, where she obtained a group leader position.

In 1996 she moved to the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair and in 2014 to the Clifford Allbutt Building, both in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences of the University of Cambridge. Her group works on the molecular neuropathology of diseases characterised by tau and alpha-synuclein aggregates. With her collaborators, she identified alpha-synuclein as the main component of the filaments that form the Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, and described one of the first mutations in the MAPT gene leading to frontotemporal dementia and Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17. 

She has received several international Prizes including the Potamkin Prize of the American Academy of Neurology, the Cotzias Prize of the Spanish Neurological Society, the Van Andel Prize for outstanding achievements in Parkinson’s disease research and the 2017 Camillo Golgi Medal from the Camillo Golgi Foundation. In 2019 she recieved the honour of Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy (Ufficiale OSI). Maria Grazia Spillantini was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, London in 2010 and Fellow of the Royal Society, London in 2013. She is Professorial Fellow at Clare Hall and a life member of Peterhouse College, Cambridge.