Research Team

Dr. Leonardo Sacconi - Senior Researcher at CNR-IFC
Leonardo Sacconi received a Master's degree in Physics in 2001 at the University of Florence. He, then, moved to Trento, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Physics. Visiting scientist at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, in the group of Watt W. Webb. There he developed an imaging method to optically record neuronal action potentials using non-linear microscopy. From 2005 to 2011 he started new research lines on functional imaging of neuronal networks at the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy (LENS) in the group of Francesco S. Pavone. In 2011 he became Researcher at the National Institute of Optics of the National Research Council (INO-CNR). He is now a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the National Research Council (IFC-CNR) and group leader of the OptoCARD lab, where he is developing innovative imaging methodologies to increase our understanding of cardiac physiology. In 2020 he also joined the Institute for Experimental Cardiovascular Medicine of the University Freiburg, Germany.

Dr. Gerrit Adam Marchal - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship
Gerard Marchal received the Master degree in Cardiovascular Research in 2015 at the VU University Amsterdam. That same year, he started as a PhD student at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam. In his dissertation he investigated various aspects of the cardiac sodium channel Nav1.5, demonstrating its impact on embryonic cardiac development and structural defects and its role in atrial fibrillation. In addition, he focussed on the modulation of targeted Nav1.5 trafficking to specific domains of cardiomyocytes. In 2021 he started a postdoctoral position as a researcher at the National Institute of Optics in Florence and in 2023 he won a prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Clinical Physiology.

Dr. Francesco Giardini- Research Fellow at IEKM
Francesco Giardini received his bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering in 2015 and his master's degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2018, both from the University of Florence. In his master's thesis, he developed software tools to reconstruct the 3D cytoarchitecture of cardiac tissue from microscopy images. in 2019, he received a short-term EMBO fellowship to visit Dr. Martin Bishop at the Cardiac Electro-Mechanics Research Group (CEMRG) at King's College London. In 2022, he received his PhD in Molecular Medicine from the University of Siena conducting experimental work in the OptoCARD group in Florence, Italy. He now has a Postdoc position at the IEKM. There he works on 3D analysis and modeling tools based on high-resolution whole-heart reconstructions to study cardiac electrical function.

Camilla Olianti - Research Fellow at LENS
Camilla Olianti received the Bachelor Degree in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in 2017 at the University of Florence and the Master Degree in Medical, Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology in 2019 at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan. In her master thesis, she developed a successful approach to obtain a high-resolution 3D reconstruction of the vascular network, cellular organization and collagen deposition of murine hearts, suitable to study several cardiac pathologies. In 2019 she started her current PhD in Molecular Medicine at the OptoCARD lab in Florence; title of the research project: Registration and optical manipulation of the cardiac electrical activity at intra- and inter-cellular level.

Giulia Arecchi - PhD Student at UNIFI
Giulia Arecchi obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in 2018 at the University of Florence, where she continued her studies, obtaining a Master's Degree in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in 2021. Her thesis, entitled: Reconstruction analysis of cardiac fibrosis in a mouse model of arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, focuses on a new methodological framework that allows imaging of whole mouse hearts with micrometric resolution. In 2021, she began her current PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the OptoCARD Lab in Florence.


Collaborators from LENS
- Francesco S. Pavone, European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy.

Collaborators from UNIFI
- Raffaele Coppini, Laura Sartiani and Elisabetta Cerbai, Department of Neurology, Psychology, Drug Sciences and Child Health (NEUROFARBA), University of Florence.
- Cecilia Ferrantini Chiara Tesi, and Corrado Poggesi, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine (DMSC), University of Florence.

External collaborators
- Leslie M. Loew, University of Connecticut Health Center, US.
- Gil Bub, McGill University, Canada.
- Alex Quinn, Dalhousie University, Canada.
- Martin Bishop, King's College London, UK.
- Eva Rog-Zielinska, Callum Zgierski-Johnston and Peter Kohl, University of Freiburg, Germany.
- Marina Campione, Tania Zaglia and Marco Mongillo, University of Padova, Italy.
- Bernd Fleischmann, University of Bonn.
- Karin Sipido, KU Leuven

Past Members

- Claudia Crocini, Ph.D
- Samantha Cannazzaro, PhD
- Marina Scardigli, PhD
- Erica Lazzari, PhD
- Valentina Biasci, PhD