Donatella Marazziti, M.D.
Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie University of Pisa,via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy.
When I enrolled in the Medical School of Medicine in Pisa (Italy) I had no idea just what type of doctor I wished to become; I was interested in the human being as a whole and not in specializing in the study of any single function or organ. However, as soon as I had passed my exams in anatomy and physiology, I realized that I had become quite fascinated by the human brain and I became convinced that I would find research in this area the most fulfilling. I was also greatly encouraged in this by Prof. Giovanni B. Cassano, who, in 1979, had just become full professor of Psychiatry and who suggested that I prepare my final thesis in his Department. I did this and I duly presented the resulting thesis in 1981, when I graduated in Medicine.
The eighties were an exciting period for Psychiatry and I consider myself very fortunate to have undergone my psychiatric training during that period.
At that time, the prescription of psychotropic drugs was beginning to be more focused, as a result of increasingly detailed diagnostic criteria, Neuroscience was evolving rapidly and neuroscientific methods were becoming easier to use and, consequently, more generally available and affordable. They began to have a real impact upon clinical research and a true link was finally being established between laboratory data and clinical practice. Also, new and more targeted drugs, namely selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, were being developed; these not only resulted in a radical change in the treatment of depression, but they also permitted the treatment of certain other categories of patients, such as those affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which had long been considered unresponsive to psychotropic compounds. In fact, generally speaking there was a widespread feeling of enthusiasm; we all felt confident that further light would soon be shed on the mysteries of the brain and various neuropsychiatric conditions, now that it had become evident that “brain = mind”.
Since I was interested in biological psychiatry and wanted to continue the tradition of my Department, which had been biologically oriented since its foundation, I spent a part of 1983 during my residency in Psychiatry at the Neurochemical laboratory of the University of Oslo (Norway), directed by Prof. Elling Kvamme, where, while carrying out a study on glutaminase, I became familiar with the basic methods employed in neurochemistry.
When I returned to Pisa, I started working in my Department’s laboratory, which had been created some 20 years earlier by Prof. Cassano. We decided to focus on two main research projects, involving (a) the platelet serotonin transporter and (b) the putative endocoids acting on central benzodiazepine receptors, which offered the possibility of clinical studies involving large patient samples.
The first studies were carried out involving depressed patients and constituted the object of my Specialty thesis and my first relevant international publications (1, 2). After specializing in psychiatry, I felt the need to broaden my knowledge and also technical ability and I therefore began my residency in Clinical Biochemistry, which I completed in 1990.
During this period, the activity of our laboratory was attracting an ever-increasing number of medical and biological students, with the result that the group became substantially larger and a number of new working arrangements were begun with other Departments throughout the University of Pisa, namely those of : (a) Biochemistry and Pharmacology in the Faculty of Pharmacology (b) Immunology, Neurology, General Pathology and Pathology in the Faculty of Medicine (c) Cell Biology in the Faculty of Science and (d) the Department of Chemistry. The link with the Departement of Biochemistry became so constant that 5 years ago we were amalgamated into a single, much larger department called “Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie”.
Some of our students began to take spells abroad, working with foreign Institutes; I myself went regularly to Augusta (Georgia) to work on various collaborative projects with the local department of Psychiatry and VA medical center.
This regular collaboration with different institutes abroad enabled us to broaden our focus and areas of interest and our research projects became more varied as a result. We began to perform pre-clinical studies, such as those in the rat and calf brain or in the human brain postmortem, where we characterized the serotonin transporter and different serotonin receptor subtypes pharmacologically by means of in situ hybridization (3-5). Recently we compared serotonin receptors in brain samples of patients with different psychiatric conditions, which had kindly been supplied by the NAMI Research Institute from Washington DC (8).
Since the 90’s, OCD and related disorders have attracted constant investigation throughout the world; in studies which we have carried out, we have demonstrated that all of these disorders have in common a reduction in the number of serotonin transporter platelets, in proportion to the severity of the obsessive-compulsive symptoms involved, which returns to normal levels after specific pharmacological treatment.
On the basis of these data, which would suggest common symptoms or dimensions, I built up a theoretical model based on two different dimensions, which enabled the recognition of similar alterations under different physiological conditions, such as that found with the early romantic phase of a loving sexual relationship or with the complex phenomenon of jealousy. The results of our study on romantic love became widely discussed, even amongst the general public, since for the first time evidence had been produced which showed that a widely recognized emotion or feeling might have a biological substrate (6). Further studies in the area of emotions, feelings and dimensions are in currently progress.
After the identification of the serotonin transporter in lymphocytes in 1998, we began to use these nucleate cells for exploring the transporter and other receptors at the level of posttranscriptional processes. At the same time, we became interested in the intracellular regulation of these structures and we have demonstrated recently that the manipulation of protein kinase of type C modifies the activity of the serotonin transporter in both healthy subjects and OCD patients, albeit to a different degree (7).
With regard to academic honours, my work has kindly been acknowledged by various bodies and I have received various prizes and distinctions: an Italian prize for research on serotonin and hypertension, the Ole Raefelsen Award for Psychiatry, received in Kyoto (Japan) in September 1990, the European College of Neuropharmacology travel award, granted in October 1991, and the Anxiety Disorder Award, granted during the congress of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry, held in Berlin in July 2001.
My affiliations include the S.I.P. (Italian Society for Psychiatry), S.I.N.S. (Italian Society for Neuroscience), SIPNI (Italian Society for Psychoneuroimmunlogy), SOPSI (Italian Society of Psychopathology), E.N.A. (European Neuroscience Association), ECNP (European College of Neuropharmacology), I.S.N. (International Society for Neurochemistry), ISPN (International Society for Psychoendocrinology), Serotonin Club, APE (European Association of Psychiatry), Society for Biological Psychiatry, and New York Academy of Sciences.
I am a member of the WPA section for OCD, a member of the Fellowship and Award Committee of the CINP, a member of the International Council for OCD, the secretary of the Tuscany section of the Italian Society of Psychiatry and of the Italian Group for OCD, a past member of the Executive Committee of the ECNP and of the educational committee of the CINP where I still serve as a memmber of the Award Committee, and I am also a foreign advisor for the OCD Foundation.
- Marazziti D., Perugi G., Deltito J., Lenzi A., Maremmani I., Placidi G.F., Cassano G.B.: High-affinity 3H-imipramine binding: a possible state-dependent marker for major depression. Psychiat. Res. 23: 229-237, 1988
- Marazziti D., Michelini S., Giannaccini G., Martini C., Cassano G.B., Lucacchini A.: Stress-related changes of B.B.I.A. in humans. Life Sci. 46: 1833-1836, 1990
- Marazziti D., Marracci S., Palego L., Rotondo A., Mazzanti C., Nardi I., Ladinsky H., Giraldo E. , Borsini F., Cassano G.B: Localization and gene expression of serotonin1A (5HT1A) receptors in human brain postmortem. Brain Res. 658: 55-59, 1994
- Marazziti D., Rossi A., Giannaccini G., Baroni S., Lucacchini A., Cassano G.B.: Presence and characterization of the serotonin transporter in human resting lymphocytes. Neuropsychopharmacology 19: 154-159, 1998
- Pasqualetti M., Ori M., Nardi I., Cassano G.B., Castagna, Marazziti D.: Distribution of serotonin 5A receptors in human brain. Mol. Brain Res. 56: 1-8, 1998.
- Marazziti D., Akiskal H.S., Rossi A., Cassano G.B.: Alteration of the serotonin transporter in romantic love. Psychol. Med. 29: 741-745, 1999.
- Marazziti D., Dell’Osso L., Masala I., Baroni S., Presta S., Giananccini G., Di Nasso E., Mungai F., Lucacchini A., Cassano G.B.: Decreased inhibitory activity of PKC in OCD patients after 6 months of treatment. Psychoneuroendocrinology 27: 769-776, 2002.
- Marazziti D., Giromella A., Di Nasso E., Rossi A., Baroni S., Masala I, Giannaccini G., Cassano G.B.: 3H-ketanserin binding sites in patients with different psychiatric disorders. Neurochem Int. 42: 511-516, 2003.
CURRICULUM VITAE et STUDIORUM
Name: Donatella Marazziti
Date of Birth: December 12,1956
Place of birth: Baschi (Terni, Central Italy)
- mother tongue: italian
- excellent knowledge: english
- good knowledge: german, french
- preliminary knowledge: danish, norvegian, russian
Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Laboratory of Psychopharmacology at the “Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie”, University of Pisa, via Roma, Pisa, Italy
University attended with dates
- Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Pisa, Italy, from November 1975 to July 1981;
- Postgraduation Specialty School of Psychiatry, from November 1981 to July 1985.
- Postgraduation Specialty School of Analytical Biochemistry, from November 1987 to November 1990.
Academic records at the University
- Total number of taken courses: 33
- Average scores: 29.4/30
- Degree in Medicine and Surgery, obtained with honours, July 28, 1981;
- Specialty in Psychiatry, obtained with honours, July 8, 1985.
- Specialty in Clinical Biochemistry, obtained with honours, November 22, 1990.
Scholarships, fellowships, and other academic distinctions
- Qualification for the “Scuola Normale Superiore” of Pisa in the academic year 1981 and 1982.
- Fellowship of the norvegian goverment from March 1983 to December 1983 for a training course in Neurochemistry at the Neurochemical laboratory of the University of Oslo (Norway)
- Grant from the European Science Foundation to attend the 1987 winter School in Zuoz (Switzerland)
- Travel Grant from the International Society for Neurochemistry to attend the 12th ISN meeting in Algarve (Portugal) in april 1989
- Grant from the European Science Foundation to attend the 1989 autumn School in Castelvecchio Pascoli (Italy)
- Winner of the National Prize for a study on “Serotonin and Hypertension”
- One year-long Grant from the Italian Research Council for a research project on the biology of depression in the years1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992
- Ole Raefelsen Award for Psychiatry, September 1990
- European College of Neuropharmacology Award, October 1991.
- Three years-long Grant from the Italian Research Council for a research project on the neurobiology of aging, from the year 1991 to the year 1995.
- One year-long Grant from the Ministry of the University and Scientific Research for a project on neurobiology of bipolar disorders in the years 1991, 1992, 1993
- Three year-long Grant from the Ministry of the University and Scientific Research for a project on neurobiology of aging in the years 1995-1998.
- Different grants from Ministry of the University and Scientific Research and the Italian Research Council on the pharmacology of the 5-HT transporter, different 5-HT and dopamine receptors and their intracellular transduction processes, in relation to different psychiatric or physiological conditions from the year 1991 up-to now.
S.I.P. (Italian Society for Psychiatry), S.I.N.S. (Italian Society for Neuroscience), SIPNI (Italian Society for Psychoneuroimmunology), E.N.A. (European Neuroscience Association), ECNP (European College of Neuropharmacology), I.S.N. (International Society for Neurochemistry), ISPN (International Society for Psychoendocrinology), Serotonin Club, APE (European Association of Psychiatry), Society for Biological Psychiatry, New York Academy of Sciences, CINP, SOPSI
Dr. Marazziti is member of the WPA section for OCD, member of the International Council for OCD, secretary of the Tuscany section of the Italian Society of Psychiatry and of the Italian Group for OCD and related disorders, member of the executive committee of the ECNP and of the educational committee of the CINP. She is also foreign advisor of the OCD foundation.
Dr. Marazziti has partecipated as a speakers in thousands of national and international congresses, meetings and masters.
She is Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical School and at the Specialty School of Psychiatry at the University of Pisa, where she holds her own courses since 15 years.
She is in the editorial board of the following journals: “European Neuropsychopharmacology”, “Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology”, “Journal of Depression and Anxiety”, “CNS Spectrums”, “Focus on OCD”, “Primary Psychiatry”, “Clinical Neuropsychiatry”.
Research projects in progress
- Peripheral serotonergic and dopaminergic markers in healthy subjects and neuropsychiatric patients: correlations with personality traits, clinical status and pharmacological response;
- In situ hybridization of different neuroreceptors in human brain from healthy subjects and psychiatric patients (brain provided by the US NAMI) and in peripheral cells;
- Biochemical characterization of an endogenous ligand (B.B.I.A.) acting on benzodiazepine central receptor;
- Molecular biology of some neuroreceptors in mood disorders;
- Second messengers coupled to serotonin transporter and serotonergic receptors.
- Oxytocin levels in different conditions
Over 550 publications (180 in the Pubmed system) mainly in international journals and the 8 books listed underneath
- Marazziti D., Cassano G.B.: La serotonina nella fisiopatologia del sistema nervoso centrale. R. Cortina ed., Milano, 1989
- Conti L., Marazziti D. (eds.): Aspetti biologici, psicologici e sociali delle condotte suicidarie. Pacini ed., Pisa, 1992
- Hollander E., Zohar J., Marazziti D., B. Olivier B: Current insights in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK, 1994
- Marazziti D., Basile Fasolo C., Balestri C., Cassano G.B.: Antidepressivi e funzionalità sessuale. Quaderni Italiani di Psichiatria. Vol XV 1996
- Marazziti D., Ravizza L.: Il gioco d’azzardo patologico: ma è davvero un gioco? Martin Dunitz ed. (Londra), 2000.
- Finiberg N., Marazziti D., Stein DJ. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. A practical guide.Martin Dunitz ed. (Londra) 2001
- Marazziti D.: Psicofarmacoterapia pratica. Fioriti Ed. (Roma, 2003, 2004, 2006)
- Vitello B., Masi G., Marazziti D.: Handbook of child and adolescent pharmacopsychiatry.
Two best-sellers both translated in Greek and Portuguese:
“La natura dell’amore,” Rizzoli, Milan (Italy), 2002
“E vissero per sempre gelosi e contenti,” Rizzoli, Milan (Italy), 2008