Andrea Volterra

Andrea Volterra started his initial work in the field of neuropsychopharmacology (mechanism of action of antidepressant and central analgesic drugs).

As a post-doc at Columbia University with Steven Siegelbaum and Eric Kandel, he studied the ion channel modulation in memory paradigms in Aplysia with voltage- and patch-clamp techniques and Xenopus oocyte transfection system for expression-cloning of fast transient K+ channels.

Then he worked as an assistant and associate professor at University of Milan: set up of a lab combining electrophysiological, biochemical and cell biological approaches. Studies focused on the mechanisms controlling excitatory amino acid neurotransmission in physiology and pathophysiology. Focus on glutamate transport, its functional regulation by arachidonic acid and endogenous redox agents, role in the development of excitotoxicity, with emphasis on astrocyte transporters. In 1997: discovery of a novel, Ca2+-dependent pathway for glutamate release from astrocytes, controlled by prostaglandins and TNFα, and demonstration of its role in physiological astrocyte-synapse cross-talk. Alteration in pathology leading to apoptotic neurodegeneration.

Since 2001 Andrea Volterra is a full professor at University of Lausanne and is responsible for the research of the interdisciplinary approach with emphasis on dynamic cellular imaging (Ca2+ imaging with epifluorescence, total internal fluorescence, confocal and two-photon microscopy) and patch-clamp in brain slices. Study of the properties of glutamate exocytosis from astrocytes, significance of this newly identified neuron-glia communication (dubbed “gliotransmission”) in synaptic functions, and role in the development of neuropsychiatric pathologies.

Personal Website:
Volterra Group


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Function in NCCR

  • Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Management Comm. Member

Intern/Extern: Intern


Director, Department of Cell Biology and Morphology (DBCM),
Faculty of Biology and Medicine at the University of Lausanne;
President, Steering Committee Cellular Imaging Facility, UNIL-CHUV


  • Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology at the University of Milan, Italy
  • M.Sc. in Pharmacology at the University of Milan, Italy

Selected memberships

  • Federation of European Societies of Neuroscience
  • American Society for Neuroscience
  • International Brain Research Organization
  • Swiss Society for Neuroscience

Selected awards

  • Nominated member of Academia Europea – Physiology and medicine
  • Novartis Price for excellence in Neuroscience
  • Young Investigator Award from the Italian Society of Neuroscience