Cristina Casalone is a neuropathologist veterinarian and manager of the neuropathology lab at the Istituto Zooprofilattico del Piemonte Liguria e Valle d'Aosta. The OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) designated the lab as an international reference center for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), for scrapie, and for marine mammal health. The lab is also a national reference center for diagnostic investigation of stranded marine mammals (CReDiMa).
1995 – degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Turin
1999 – postgraduate degree with honors in science and medicine of laboratory animals from the Veterinary School, University of Milan
2009 – present – seven diplomas of management training
2018 – Piedmont Regional certificate in managerial training for general managers of health services (Decree Law 502/92, art. 3-bis and Ministerial Decree 01/08/2000)
She has conducted research in neurodegenerative diseases in animals and humans since 1999, with a focus on the diagnosis of prion diseases. A major achievement was the discovery of a novel BSE strain, bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy (BASE) (Casalone et al., 2004). She has coordinated research groups involved in international projects focused on characterizing of BASE strain in different animal species (transgenic mice, cattle, sheep, macaques). Originally published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), an account of the discovery was carried by the New York Times.
Neurodegenerative diseases caused by protein misfolding, the so-called prion-like disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are the focus of more recent research activity. In 2012 she patented a transgenic pig model of SOD1-linked familiar ALS. She developed experiments investigating the effect of microgravity on the mechanisms underlying protein aggregation in prion-like diseases (research project “Amyloid Aggregation”; the experiments were conducted by Luca Parmitano on the International Space Station in August 2019.
Jointly with these research activities, she coordinated the diagnostic network of the Istituti Zooprofilattici Sperimentali of Italy in the anomaly mortality event of striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) occurred in Italy 2013 along the Tirrenian coastline. In 2014 she was recognized as the head of the Italian Reference Centre of diagnostic activities on stranded cetaceans (C.Re.Di.Ma) and, in 2017, component of the Coordination Table of the National Network of Marine Mammals, under the framework of the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Health.
On June 2019 she was recognized as Contact Point, in collaboration with Prof. A. Fernandez, of the new OIE Collaborating Centre for Health of Marine Mammals, assigned as a Consortium between the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte Liguria e Valle d’Aosta (IZSPLVA), Torino, Italy and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), Spain.
In addition, from 2018 to date she has coordinated the Working Group on the Enhancing Research and Development in Africa (ERFAN project) which monitors prion diseases in Africa.
She is also project leader of two research projects focused on human glioblastoma.
Overall, she has published more than 140 research articles (112 with an impact factor [h-index] of 28 and 24 without self-citation, respectively) and made presentations at national and international conferences.