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Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science

Susanna Rosi, PhD

Associate Professor, UCSF

Director of Neurocognitive Research, Brain and Spinal Injury Center

University of California, San Francisco

Box 0899

San Francisco, CA 94143

Phone: (415) 206-3708

Fax: (415) 206-3948


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  • BS, Science, University of Florence, Italy, 1995
  • PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Florence, Italy, 2000
  • Postdoctoral, Pharmacology, University of Florence, Italy, 2000-01
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 2002-06

Research Interests

  • Neuroinflammation
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Therapeutic cranial irradiation and cognition
  • Space irradiation and cognition
  • Innate immune system and cognition
  • Synaptic plasticity, hippocampal learning and memory
  • Plasticity-related immediate early gene Arc (activity regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein)
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-(TNF-α), learning and memory
  • Prefrontal cortex injury and cognitive functions


Dr. Rosi is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and Neurological Surgery; she is also the Director of Neurocognitive Research in the Brain and Spinal Injury Center (BASIC). Her areas of expertise include neuroinflammation, brain injury and cognitive functions. She obtained her PhD from the University of Florence, Italy. After completing a short Post-Doctoral Training in Italy she moved to the University of Arizona for a Post-Doctoral Research Associate position in the Neural System Memory and Aging Center under the guidance of Drs. Carol Barnes and Gary Wenk. She joined the UCSF faculty in 2006 and she received an accelerated promotion to Associate Professor in 2011 and became Director of Neurocognitive Research. She has been able to build national and international recognition in the field of Neuroscience, and among her numerous achievements she recently received the Bridging the Gap Award from the California Institute for Quantitative Bioscience (2015) and was chosen to give the 2015 Discovery Talk at the upcoming UCSF Alumni Weekend.

Current Research

Dr. Rosi's laboratory is located in the Brain and Spinal Injury Center (BASIC) at San Francisco General Hospital. Her research is focused on understanding how innate immune system activation and macrophages polarization affect information processing and cognition from a cellular and network perspective. Her laboratory employs different animal models of brain injury (traumatic brain injury, therapeutic cranial γ-irradiation and high charged particle radiation) that recapitulate many human conditions. Her published results demonstrate that neuroinflammation alters the coupling of neuronal activity with the transcription of genes that are implicated in long-term memory and synaptic plasticity (Rosi et al., Journal of Neuroscience 2005).


By modulating different aspects of neuroinflammation her lab, she has demonstrated that it is possible to restore synaptic plasticity and cognitive functions in different animal models of chronic neuroinflammatory conditions (Rosi et al., Brain 2009; Belarbi et al., Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012; Twediee et al; Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012; Belarbi et al; Brain Behavior and Immunity 2012;  Belarbi et al., Cancer Research 2013). More recently, they reported that peripheral monocytes infiltration alters macrophages polarization in the brain. Most importantly, by targeting monocytes infiltration it is possible to modify macrophages polarization and prevent long term loss of synaptic and cognitive function after injury (Morganti et al., Journal of Neuroscience 2015).


As director of Neurocognitive research at BASIC, Dr. Rosi develops and oversees behavioral tests for animals that are comparable to the cognitive tests used in the clinic. Her long-term goal is to identify diagnostic tools for treatment of cognitive dysfunctions associated with brain injury and aging.


Honors and Awards

  • Special Award for Research and Career: Vel l’Etrusco, City of Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy, 2006
  • Academic Senate Committee on Research: Individual Investigator Award, UCSF, 2007
  • Research Evaluation & Allocation Committee Award, UCSF, 2007
  • Tuscany Special Award: Young Talents and Magnificant Excellences, City of Arezzo, Italy, 2007
  • New Investigator Research Grant, Alzheimer's Association, 2008
  • Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Seed Grant, UCSF, 2012
  • Bridging the Gap Award from the California Institute for Quantitative Bioscience, 2015
  • Invited to give the 2015 Discovery Talk at the UCSF Alumni Weekend, 2015

Recent Publications (PubMed)