Genny Orso


Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
University of Padova
via F. Marzolo 5, 35131 Padova - Italy

Position: Researcher (RTDA) SSD BIO/14

Phone: +39-049-827-5099
Fax:  +39-049-827-5093

  Short CV

2018- present RTDA BIO/14

2016-2017 Principal Investigator at the IRCCS E.MEDEA Scientific Institute, Neurobiology, computational biology and Pharmacology area, Conegliano (TV)

2009-2016 Principal Investigator at the IRCCS E.MEDEA Scientific Institute, Neurobiology, computational biology and Pharmacology area, Bosisio Parini (LC)

2006-2008: Postdoctoral Research Fellow 2006, early career award, at the Neuroscience Institute of Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland

2006: Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, University of Padova

2001: Degree in Biological Science, University of Padova



1-General Pharmacology and Toxicology (Degree Course: Biotechnology); ECTS 1, 16 hours bench teaching

2-Plant Biology and Pharmacognosy (Degree Course: Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Techniques); ECTS 5, 40 hours frontal lectures

3-Methods of Molecular Pharmacology (PhD program in Pharmacological Sciences); ECTS 1, 6 hours frontal lectures and 14 hours bench teaching

Educational offer

  Office hours

Any day, upon appointment (please contact via e-mail).

  Availability for Thesis Projects

  • Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia models: mechanisms, targets and pharmacological screening
  • Schizophrenia model: cellular mechanisms of dysbindin loss of function mutations in endocytic trafficking and autophagy
  • Antipsychotic effects on lipid metabolism


  Scientific Activities

1)      Drosophila and cellular models of neurological disorders 
Part of our research activity is focused on neurological disorders such as Schizophrenia and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). For many neurological diseases the pathogenic mechanism is unknown or unclear making the development of a therapy difficult. In our lab we use Drosophila as model organism to identify the pathogenic mechanisms and/or pharmacological targets linked to human disorders. 

HSP. In the past we developed Drosophila models to study the biological function of genes involved in HSP. Our activity is now focused on metabolic dysfunctions associated to HSP pathology. Pharmacological screening tests are in progress in our lab to identify compounds able to rescue lethality and neurological defects, with a specific focus on lipid metabolism as amenable target. 

Schizophrenia. We developed a fruit fly model of the schizophrenia susceptibility gene dysbindin and we are working to clarify its function in endocytic trafficking and autophagy in glia and neurons. A parallel study aims to analyze the antipsychotic effects in wild type and loss of function model of dysbindin as well as to explore the metabolic side effects of antipsychotics.  

2)      Target and toxicant mechanism of Norbormide
A new project started in the lab in 2018 supported by the grant Smart Ideas grant 2017, Ministry of Business, Innovation and employment of  New Zealand.  In collaboration with Landcare Research and University of Auckland the project aims to identify the norbormide target and develop Drosophila transgenic models to screen species-selective vertebrate toxins.


Membership: Member of Genetic Society of America

  Technical expertise

Laser Scanning Microscopy in Biomedical application

Dinamic Live Cell Studies

Molecular biology applied to cellular and animal models


  1. Scheggia D, Mastrogiacomo R, Mereu M, Sannino S, Straub RE, Armando M, Managò F, Guadagna S, Piras F, Zhang F, Kleinman JE, Hyde TM, Kaalund SS, Pontillo M, Orso G, Caltagirone C, Borrelli E, De Luca MA, Vicari S, Weinberger DR, Spalletta G, Papaleo F. Variations in Dysbindin-1 are associated with cognitive response to antipsychotic drug treatment. Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 11;9(1):2265. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04711-w.
  2. Papadopoulos C, Orso G, Mancuso G, Herholz M, Gumeni S, Tadepalle N, Jüngst C, Tzschichholz A, Schauss A, Höning S, Trifunovic A, Daga A, Rugarli EI.Spastin binds to lipid droplets and affects lipid metabolism. PLoS Genet. 2015 Apr 13;11(4):e1005149. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005149. eCollection 2015 Apr.
  3. Orso G*, Pendin D*, Liu S, Tosetto J, Moss TJ, Faust JE, Micaroni M, Egorova A, Martinuzzi A, McNew JA, Daga A. Homotypic fusion of ER membranes requires the dynamin-like GTPase atlastin. Nature. 2009 Aug 20;460(7258):978-83. Erratum in: Nature.2010 Apr 8;464(7290):942.
  4. Orso G, Martinuzzi A, Rossetto MG, Sartori E, Feany M, Daga A.Disease-related phenotypes in a Drosophila model of hereditary spastic paraplegia are ameliorated by treatment with vinblastine. J Clin Invest. 2005 Nov;115(11):3026-34.
  5. Trotta N*, Orso G*, Rossetto MG, Daga A, Broadie K.The hereditary spastic paraplegia gene, spastin, regulates microtubule stability to modulate synaptic structure and function.Curr Biol. 2004 Jul 13;14(13):1135-47.

  Research projects and Funds

2018-2020 Principal Investigator of the project: " Interplay between muscle and brain metabolic homeostasis in Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia disease: Drosophilaas a tool for new targets and drugs discovery". PRIDJ 2018, University of Padova

2017-2020 Collaborator of the project: “A fruit-fly screening model to accelerate development of species-selective vertebrate toxins” . Smart Ideas grant 2017, Ministry of Business, Inoovation and employent, New Zeland.

2014-2016 Principal investigator of the project:  “Malattie del motoneurone: analisi di modelli di Drosophila per lo studio del ruolo del metabolismo lipidico nei processi neurodegenerativi, Ministero della Salute, Ricerca Corrente 2014

2013–2017 Coordinator of the project “The neuronal role of lipids: from molecular function of genes to identification of biomarker in juvenile spastic paraplegia forms”. Young Investigator Grant on Pediatric Research 2013, IRP, Fondazione Cariparo.

2013-2018 –Collaborator of the European project NEUROLIPID "Lipid metabolism in the pathogenesis of hereditary spastic paraplegia: genes, biomarkers, and models for therapy” . European Research Projects on Rare Diseases 2013.

2012-2016 Co-investigator of the “Schizophrenia pathogenetic mechanisms associated to dysbindin dysfunctions in fly and mouse models”. Progetto Giovani Ricercatori, Ministero del Lavoro, della Salute e delle Politiche Sociali. GR-2010-2315883

2009-2012 Coordinator of the project  “Development of motor neuron disease models in Drosophila”. Progetto Giovani Ricercatori, Ministero del Lavoro, della Salute e delle Politiche Sociali. 

2009-2013 Principal investigator of the project: “Studio funzionale in Drosophila del gene Senataxina, responsabile di forme precoci di MND: Malattie del motoneurone”, Ricerca corrente, Ministero della Salute.

2006-2008 Postdoctoral Research Fellow 2006, early career award. Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), Ireland