Giancarlo De Ferrari, Ph.D.



I received my Marine Biologist professional title under the instruction of Dr. Tarsicio Antezana from Universidad de Concepción, Chile (1993) and performed my PhD Thesis in Cell and Molecular Biology under the supervision of Dr. Nibaldo Inestrosa at the P. Universidad Católica de Chile (2001). I was awarded a PEW-Latin American Fellowship to receive Post-Doctoral training in Molecular Biology and Genetics under the guidance of Dr. Randall T. Moon, at the Department of Pharmacology of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle (USA; 2002-2004).

Back in Chile I was appointed as an Assistant Professor (2004) and then as an Associate Professor (2009) at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Universidad de Concepción, Chile. In 2010 I moved my laboratory to the Center for Biomedical Research, in the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Life Sciences, Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago-Chile, where currently hold a Full Professor tenureship.

During my professional career I have been a Visiting Scientist at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (USA; Dr. M. Huntley), the Weizmann Institute of Sciences (Israel, Dr. I. Silman), the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville (USA; Dr. T. Rosenberry), the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda (USA; Dr. J. Hardy), the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in Seattle (USA; R.T. Moon), and the University of Ioannina (Greece, Drs. J. Ioannidis, and E. Evangelou). My work has been published on renowned scientific journals including Molecular Psychiatry, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), Nature Reviews Genetics, Blood, Oncogene, Translational Psychiatry, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Brain Research Reviews, among others.

Since 2004, I have been directly involved in the formation of 27 students: 2 Postdoctoral fellows, 8 PhDs Thesis (6 completed), 10 Masters Thesis (7 completed) and 11 Thesis for undergraduate students (all completed). I also participate as an expert reviewer for CONICYT-FONDECYT grants in the regular, beginner and postdoctoral competitions and was a member and then Chair of the National Committee for the Pew Programs in the Biomedical Sciences (2009-2015). Finally, I have been invited to peer review for various scientific journals and international grant agencies, such as the Alzheimer´s Research Trust in UK and the Alzheimer’s Association in USA.

Research Description

Our research has been devoted to understand the functional activity of Wnt signaling components in prevalent neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Autism. More recently, we began to examine the role of the Wnt signaling cascade during the onset or development of cancer, particularly in leukemia. To this end we use multiple approaches including cellular/molecular biology and protein-protein interaction techniques, as well as high-throughput genetics/genomics and bioinformatics.

Key Publications

  1. – Vidal EA, Moyano TC, Bustos BI, Pérez-Palma E, et al., De Ferrari GV, Miquel JF, Gutiérrez RA. (2019). Whole Genome Sequence, Variant Discovery and Annotation in Mapuche-Huilliche Native South Americans. Sci Rep 9(1):2132.
  2. Bustos BI, Pérez-Palma E, et al., De Ferrari GV, Miquel JF. (2019). Variants in ABCG8 and TRAF3 genes confer risk for gallstone disease in admixed Latinos with Mapuche Native American ancestry. Sci Rep 9(1):772.
  3. Medina MA, Andrade VM, Caracci MO, Avila ME, Verdugo DA, Vargas MF, Ugarte GD, Reyes AE, Opazo C, De Ferrari GV. (2018). Wnt/β-catenin signaling stimulates the expression and synaptic clustering of the autism-associated Neuroligin 3 gene. Transl Psychiatry 8(1):45.
  4. Ugarte GD, Vargas MF, Medina MA, León P, Necuñir D, Elorza AA, Gutiérrez SE, Moon RT, Loyola A, De Ferrari GV. (2015). Wnt signaling induces transcription, spatial proximity, and translocation of fusion gene partners in human hematopoietic cells. Blood 126(15):1785-9.
  5.  Avila ME, Sepúlveda FJ, Burgos CF, Moraga-Cid G, Parodi J, Moon RT, Aguayo LG, Opazo C, De Ferrari GV. (2010). Canonical Wnt3a modulates intracellular calcium and enhances excitatory neurotransmission in hippocampal neurons. J Biol Chem 285(24):18939-47.
  6. De Ferrari GV, Papassotiropoulos A, Biechele T, et al., Hardy J, Moon RT. (2007). Common genetic variation within the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6 and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(22):9434-9.
  7. De Ferrari GV, Moon RT. (2006). The ups and downs of Wnt signaling in prevalent neurological disorders. Oncogene 25(57):7545-53.
  8. Moon RT, Kohn AD, De Ferrari GV, Kaykas A. (2004). WNT and beta-catenin signalling: diseases and therapies. Nat Rev Genet 5(9):691-701.
  9.  De Ferrari GV, Chacón MA, Barría MI, Garrido JL, Godoy JA, Olivares G, Reyes AE, Alvarez A, Bronfman M, Inestrosa NC. (2003). Activation of Wnt signaling rescues neurodegeneration and behavioral impairments induced by beta-amyloid fibrils. Mol Psychiatry 8(2):195-208.
  10. De Ferrari GV, Inestrosa NC. (2000). Wnt signaling function in Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Res Brain Res Rev 33(1):1-12.