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Novarino Group

Genetic and Molecular Basis of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Gaia Novarino’s research aims to study genes underlying inherited forms of neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, intellectual disability, and autism. Neurodevelopmental disorders affect millions of people and are often refractory to treatments. Her group employs many different techniques, from molecular biology to behavior, to identify common pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this group of disorders.

Neurodevelopmental disorders are caused by mutations in a plethora of genes, whose role in the brain is mostly unknown. Identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying these genetic forms of seizure, autism syndromes, and intellectual disability may retain the key to develop therapeutic strategies for this group of conditions. The Novarino group studies the function of epilepsy, intellectual disability, and autism-causing genes at the system, cellular, and molecular levels with the goal of providing a framework for the development of effective pharmacological therapies and the background for the identification of new pathological genetic variants. Their work in understanding the underlying mechanisms will moreover advance the overall understanding of the human brain.


Image of Francesca Barbieri

Francesca Barbieri

PhD Student

Image of Matteo Barel

Matteo Barel

PhD Student

Image of Barbara de Sousa Oliveira

Barbara de Sousa Oliveira


Image of Farnaz Freeman

Farnaz Freeman

Research Technician

+43 2243 9000 2139

Image of Romina Gisonno

Romina Gisonno


Image of Sarah Gorkiewicz

Sarah Gorkiewicz

PhD Student

Image of Emily Haimerl

Emily Haimerl

PhD Student

Image of Franco Lombino

Franco Lombino


Image of Domenico Marano

Domenico Marano


Image of Vittoria Mariano

Vittoria Mariano


Image of Simon Schnabl

Simon Schnabl

PhD Student

Image of Lena Schwarz

Lena Schwarz

PhD Student

Image of Viktor Voronin

Viktor Voronin

Research Technician

+43 2243 9000 2139

Current Projects

Molecular mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorders | Chromatin remodeling in intellectual disability | Studying convergences and divergences across genetically defined autism disorders | Metabolic pathways in neurodevelopmental disorders


Deliu E, Arecco N, Morandell J, Dotter C, Contreras X, Girardot C, Käsper E, Kozlova A, Kishi K, Chiaradia I, Noh K, Novarino G. 2018. Haploinsufficiency of the intellectual disability gene SETD5 disturbs developmental gene expression and cognition. Nature Neuroscience. 21(12), 1717–1727. View

Tarlungeanu D-C, Deliu E, Dotter C, Kara M, Janiesch P, Scalise M, Galluccio M, Tesulov M, Morelli E, Sönmez F, Bilgüvar K, Ohgaki R, Kanai Y, Johansen A, Esharif S, Ben Omran T, Topcu M, Schlessinger A, Indiveri C, Duncan K, Caglayan A, Günel M, Gleeson J, Novarino G. 2016. Impaired amino acid transport at the blood brain barrier is a cause of autism spectrum disorder. Cell. 167(6), 1481–1494. View

Novarino G, Fenstermaker A, Zaki M, Hofree M, Silhavy J, Heiberg A, Abdellateef M, Rosti B, Scott E, Mansour L, Masri A, Kayserili H, Al Aama J, Abdel Salam G, Karminejad A, Kara M, Kara B, Bozorgmehri B, Ben Omran T, Mojahedi F, Mahmoud I, Bouslam N, Bouhouche A, Benomar A, Hanein S, Raymond L, Forlani S, Mascaro M, Selim L, Shehata N, Al Allawi N, Bindu P, Azam M, Günel M, Caglayan A, Bilgüvar K, Tolun A, Issa M, Schroth J, Spencer E, Rosti R, Akizu N, Vaux K, Johansen A, Koh A, Megahed H, Dürr A, Brice A, Stévanin G, Gabriel S, Ideker T, Gleeson J. 2014. Exome sequencing links corticospinal motor neuron disease to common neurodegenerative disorders. Science. 343(6170), 506–511. View

View All Publications

ReX-Link: Gaia Novarino


Since 2021 Vice President for Science Education, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
Since 2019 Professor, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
2014 – 2019 Assistant Professor, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
2010 – 2013 Postdoc, UCSD, La Jolla, USA
2006 – 2010 Postdoc, Center for Molecular Neurobiology, Hamburg, Germany and MDC/FMP, Berlin, Germany
2006 PhD, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy

Selected Distinctions

2020-2024 FWF Special Research Programmes (SFB) grant “Stem Cell Modulation in Neural Development and Regeneration”
2020-2024 Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) grant
2022 ERC Consolidator Grant
2017 Knight Grand Cross, Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
2016 Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) Investigator
2016 ERC Starting Grant
2016 FENS-Kavli Scholar
2015 Boehringer Ingelheim FENS Research Award 2016
2014 Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) Taking Flight Award
2012 Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) Young Investigator Travel Award
2011 DFG 2-year Fellowship

Additional Information

Novarino Group Website

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