Maria Grazia Spillantini is Professor of Molecular Neurology in the Clinical School of the University of Cambridge. Prof. Spillantini’s lab researches the cause of diseases like Parkinson's and Frontotemporal dementia, as well as Alzheimer's disease with the aim to identify targets for therapy.
After receiving a Laurea in Biological Sciences, summa cum Laude from the University of Florence, she pursued research at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology of the University of Florence, at the Unité de Neurobiologie of the INSERM in Paris and at the Molecular Neurobiology Unit of the Medical Research Council in Cambridge. In 1987, Prof. Spillantini moved to the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where she obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology from Cambridge University working with Michel Goedert and Sir Aaron Klug with whom later she continued research as a postdoctoral fellow.
In 1996, Prof. Spillantini moved to the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair and in 2014 to the Clifford Allbutt Building, both in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences of the University of Cambridge. Her group worked on the molecular neuropathology of diseases characterized by tau and alpha-synuclein aggregates. She identified alpha-synuclein as the main component of the filaments that form the Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies and described one of the first mutations in the MAPT gene leading to frontotemporal dementia and Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17.
Prof. Spillantini is a member of Scientific Advisory panels in institutions in Europe and USA and is Chair of the Clifford Allbutt Building of Cambridge University. Prof. Spillantini has been awarded several international prizes including the Potamkin Prize of the American Academy of Neurology, the Cotsias Prize of the Spanish Neurological Society, the Van Andel Prize for outstanding achievements in Parkinson’s disease research, and the 2017 Camillo Golgi Medal from the Camillo Golgi Foundation. In 2019, she received the honor of Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy (Ufficiale OSI), and, in 2020, she obtained the European Grand Prix de la Fondation Recherche Alzheimer, Paris.
Prof. Spillantini was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, London in 2010, Fellow of the Royal Society, London in 2013, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2019. She is Professorial Fellow at Clare Hall and a life member of Peterhouse College, Cambridge.