Jul 14, 2022 · 2 min read

How an Urgent Call From a Family in Italy Changed This Scientist’s Career

How virologist Ivan Marazzi was inspired to change the course of his career after a pivotal conversation with a concerned father seeking answers.


Ivan Marazzi didn’t set out to study neurodegenerative diseases — which include a wide range of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s disease and are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. As an associate professor of microbiology at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, Ivan studies how cells respond to viruses and other disease-causing pathogens.

When he was starting out as a principal investigator, Ivan — alongside a multinational research team — made a discovery related to a gene known to cause early onset ALS and several other rare neurodegenerative disorders. This discovery made global news — catching the attention of a father seeking answers. What happened next changed the course of Ivan’s career.

Explore the illustrated story to learn more about how Ivan’s work has changed and why.

What’s next on Ivan’s journey to understand neurodegenerative diseases?

Ivan continues to investigate the role of our immune systems in motor neuron diseases like ALS. In 2018, he received a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Ben Barres Early Acceleration Award — a grant to support early career investigators studying neurodegenerative disorders, especially those who are new to neuroscience.

Most recently, Ivan and a team of researchers at Mount Sinai published a study in Nature that could have significant implications for diagnosing and treating ALS, other neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.

Visit our Neurodegeneration Challenge Network page to learn more about how we’re bringing together experimental scientists from diverse research fields, along with computational biologists and physicians, to develop new strategies for the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative disease.

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