News & Events

Fast Track to a PhD

SISSA has just launched a new program for faster access to a PhD in condensed matter physics. The best students will be able to attend lectures at SISSA while still attending their last year of the Master course in Physics at the University of Trieste.

A “bridge" of carbon between nerve tissues

A complex study, lasting several years and involving work groups with specialties in various fields, has shown that a new material (a three-dimensional sponge made of carbon nanotubes) supports the growth of nerve fibers, bridging  segregated neural explants and providing a functional re-connection.

The large-scale stability of chromosomes

A new study led by the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and published in PLOS Computational Biology adds detail to the theoretical models used in chromatin simulations and demonstrates that even when made up of a mixture of fibres with different properties chromatin does not alter its three-dimensional structure above a certain spatial resolution. This finding points to a need to improve on current techniques for experimental observation, which are characterized by a resolution that is still too low.

Living, transformed… simply food

Despite the central role of food in our lives, research has done little to discover how food concepts are organized in our brain. A review carried out at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste sorts out the knowledge gained so far, relating it to the current theories of semantic categorization. This in-depth analysis provides a useful conceptual framework for future research and for putting the different theories to the test. The paper has just been published in Psychonomic Bulletin Review.

“Hey! You stole my food!”

Frontotemporal dementia is associated with a wide variety of abnormal eating behaviors such as hyperphagia, fixations on one kind of food, even ingestion of  inanimate objects, making an already-difficult situation even worse. A review by SISSA researchers gathers together the state of the art of what is known in this field, paying particular attention to the brain mechanisms involved. The information may be used for understanding eating disorders in healthy people. The review was published in the magazine Neurocase.

Oxytocin in the recognition of emotions

Studies have demonstrated that oxytocin (which acts as an hormone and also as a neurotransmitter in the brain) plays a role in facilitating the perception of emotions in other people’s facial expressions. An international study conducted by Sebastian Korb (researcher in the SISSA’s Neurosciences area) and colleagues has tested the idea that this phenomenon is related to facial mimicry. According to embodied cognition theory, in fact, the recognition of others’ emotions is facilitated by their imitation and reproduction with our own face.

The mathematics of Nature’s forms

15 June 2016, 3 pm

SISSA, Main Lecture Hall

The shape of a leaf, the pattern on a viper’s skin, a mollusc’s shell: Nature knows how to create accurate patterns. Alberto Bressan, mathematician at Penn State University (Pennsylvania, USA) will give a talk (for the SISSA Colloquia series) on the mathematics governing the growth of biological forms. The event, to be held in English, is free and open to the public

Elliptical galaxies not formed by merging

Using an “intuitive” approach, a SISSA study confirms a recent hypothesis on the formation of galaxies, according to which the larger elliptical galaxies formed in very ancient times through a process of local (in situ) star formation. This contradicts the current paradigm that they formed through the merging  of spiral galaxies, a view which, despite being generally accepted by most of the scientific community, has been a source of theoretical inconsistencies.

A look beyond the horizon of events

Black holes are still very mysterious celestial bodies which, according to the majority of physicists, do not, however, escape the laws of thermodynamics. As a result, these physical systems possess an entropy though no real agreement has been reached about the microscopic origin of this propriety and how it should be calculated. A SISSA/Max Planck Institute (Potsdam) group has achieved important results in this calculation by applying a new formalism (Group Field Theory) of Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), a very popular approach in the area of quantum gravity.

Parrinello at SISSA

30 May 2016, 2.30 pm

SISSA, room 128

Michele Parrinello, a former SISSA professor, has remained a model for the school and a mentor for some of the scientists who work here. On May 30th, the physicist who was awarded the Dirac Medal, amongst others, will be at SISSA for a conference where he will explain his method for the simulation of “rare events”, a major challenge in the multifaceted world of computer simulations.

The protein that assesses distances

A protein of the ISWI family (Imitation Switch, or nucleosome remodelling motors) is endowed with a special property: despite having no organ of sense it is nonetheless able to assess the length of DNA strands. A study just published in the Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment and carried out by SISSA, the MAX Planck Institute and the NIH has discovered how it works.

Selection Begins for MHPC 2016

Registration is  officially open for the 2016/2017 edition of the SISSA/ICTP Master in High Performance Computing. Applications can be completed online until July 6, 2016 at Now in its third edition, this exclusive Master’s program selects 15 high-profile participants from a large pool of applicants. Experts from academia and leading international companies prepare students for the high-performance world of computing (HPC).

Words, more words… and statistics

Picking out single words in a flow of speech is no easy task and, according to linguists, to succeed in doing it the brain might use statistical methods. A group of SISSA scientists has applied a statistics-based method for word segmentation and measured its efficacy on natural language, in 9 different languages, to discover that linguistic rhythm plays an important role. The study has just been published in the Journal of Developmental Science.

Aperte le iscrizioni a MCS

Come ogni anno si aprono le iscrizioni per le selezioni al Master in Comunicazione della Scienza “Franco Prattico” (MCS) della SISSA di Trieste, valide per l’accesso al biennio 2016-2018. La scuola si conferma la migliore in Italia in questo campo, oltre che quella di più lunga tradizione, con dati occupazionali sempre molto positivi e un’offerta formativa di massima qualità. Le iscrizioni alle selezioni per il biennio resteranno aperte fino al 27 settembre 2016, alle 12.00.

Freedom and Creativity in Mathematics

25 May 2016, 3:30p.m.

SISSA, Room 128

Via Bonomea 265, Trieste

The newest appointment in the SISSA colloquia calendar features Mathematics. Claudio Bartocci, mathematician at the Università di Genova, will give a talk intertwining mathematics and philosophy, specifically addressing the question of what role creativity, and, more generally, freedom play in the study of mathematics.

Emotions in the age of Botox

Botulin injections in the facial muscles, which relax expression lines and make one’s skin appear younger as a result of a mild paralysis, have another, not easily predictable effect: they undermine the ability to understand the facial expressions of other people. This consequence, as SISSA scientists explain in a new research study, depends on a temporary block of proprioceptive  feedback, a process that helps us understand other people’s emotions by reproducing them on our own bodies.

Gene therapy against brain cancer

A team from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste has obtained very promising results by applying gene therapy to glioblastoma. Tests in vitro and in vivo on mice provided very clear-cut results, and modelling demonstrates that the treatment targets at least six different points of tumour metabolism. Gene therapy, a technique that selectively attacks a tumour, might provide hope in the fight against this type of deadly cancer, for which surgery is practically impossible and chemo- and radiotherapy are ineffective against very aggressive recurrences.

Graphene Flakes to Calm Synapses

Innovative graphene technology to buffer the activity of synapses-- this is the idea behind a recently-published study in the journal ACS Nano coordinated by the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste (SISSA)  and the University of Trieste. In particular, the study showed how effective graphene oxide flakes are at interfering with excitatory synapses, an effect that could prove useful in new treatments for diseases like epilepsy.




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