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Neville Vassallo was appointed as Associate Professor within the Dept. of Physiology & Biochemistry of the University of Malta


Prof. Neville Vassallo MD, PhD has been recently appointed as Associate Professor within the Dept. of Physiology & Biochemistry of the University of Malta, in recognition for his work and expertise in the field of neurodegenerative proteinopathies. Prof. Vassallo is one of the member of the Scientific Board of ISANH.


Prof. Vassallo established the Laboratory of Molecular Physiology back in 2008, and it is now located within the new Centre for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking, University of Malta. The laboratory is dedicated to the study of the molecular pathophysiology of age-related neurodegenerative disorders, typically Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

A wide array of biophysical and biochemical techniques are used to investigate disease mechanisms at the single-molecule level, with a special focus on mitochondria. His research is strongly allied to drug discovery, and hence applied biomedical research. Work is ongoing to develop assays to screen small-molecule compounds, especially those derived from nature, for biological activity and as a starting point for drug development. Training is provided to local and international postgraduate students as part of Master’s and PhD programmes.

Under Prof. Vassallo’s direction, the Laboratory of Molecular Physiology has forged strong alliances with internationally renowned research institutions abroad. Foremost are the Centre for Neuropathology of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich (LMU) and the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Disease Research also in Munich, Germany.

Lately, Prof. Vassallo was invited to Munich to deliver a keynote lecture entitled “Amyloid-membrane interactions: a novel target for therapeutic intervention in neurodegenerative disease” as part of a seminar series being organised by the “Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology” (SyNergy). Other collaborating institutions include the Department of Biophysics, University of Osnabrück, Germany and the Department of Biomedical, Experimental and Clinical Sciences of the University of Florence, Italy. 




Selected Publications: 

Borg, R.M., Fenech Salerno, B., Vassallo, N., Bordonne, R. and Cauchi, R.J. (2016) Disruption of snRNP biogenesis factors Tgs1 and pICln induces phenotypes that mirror aspects of SMN-Gemins complex perturbation in Drosophila, providing new insights into spinal muscular atrophy. Neurobiol. Dis. 94:245-258.

Caruana, M., Cauchi, R. and Vassallo, N. (2016) Putative role of red wine polyphenols against brain pathology in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Frontiers in Nutrition. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2016.00031 

Ghio, S., Kamp, F., Cauchi, R., Giese, A. and Vassallo, N. (2016) Interaction of α-synuclein with biomembranes in Parkinson's disease - role of cardiolipin. Prog. Lipid Res., 61, 73-82.

Vassallo, N. (ed.). (2015). Natural Compounds as Therapeutic Agents for Amyloidogenic Diseases. Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

Camilleri, A., Zarb, C., Caruana, M., Ostermeier, U., Ghio, S., Högen, T., Schmidt, F., Giese, A. and Vassallo, N. (2013) Mitochondrial membrane permeabilisation by amyloid aggregates and protection by polyphenols. Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 1828, 2532-2543.

Högen, T., Levin, J., Schmidt, F., Caruana, M., Vassallo, N., Kretzschmar, H., Kamp, F. and Giese, A. (2012) Two different binding modes of α-Synuclein to lipid vesicles depending on its aggregation state. Biophys. J., 102, 1646-1655.

Caruana, M., Högen, T., Levin, J., Hillmer, A., Giese, A. and Vassallo N. (2011). Inhibition and disaggregation of α-synuclein oligomers by natural polyphenolic compounds. FEBS Lett., 585, 1113-1120.