Fabio Ferrarelli, MD, PhD

  • Director of the Sleep and Schizophrenia Program, Department of Psychiatry
  • Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Education & Training

  • Graduate School – Catholic University of Sacred Heart – PhD – Neuroscience
  • Medical School – Catholic University of Sacred Heart – MD
  • Post-Doctoral – University of Wisconsin – Neuroscience
  • Residency – Western Psychiatry Institute & Clinic of UPMC - Psychiatry

Research Grants

NIH Grants:  R01

Research Summary

Dr. Ferrarelli conducts research on the neurobiology of schizophrenia and related disorders, with a focus on the identification of biomarkers implicated in the development and manifestation of those disorders. He is currently investigating the molecular, neural, and behavioral aspects of psychosis, emphasizing the value of integrating multiple research techniques for elucidating the pathophysiology of major psychotic disorders and ultimately improving their treatments. Specifically, Dr. Ferrarelli has been investigating neurophysiological abnormalities during wakefulness and sleep in early course psychosis employing cutting-edge research methodologies, such as high density (hd)-EEG and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) with hd-EEG. Extending this work to individuals at risk for psychosis, Dr. Ferrarelli is currently Principal Investigator on a NIMH-funded R01 (1R01MH113827, “Characterize differences in sleep spindles between Clinical High Risk and healthy controls longitudinally"). Using a longitudinal design and multiple levels of analysis, from clinical to molecular, this study aims at providing new insights into the vulnerability to, development of, and early intervention strategies for schizophrenia and related disorders. Dr. Ferrarelli has been actively involved in teaching and mentoring trainees, including undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, psychiatry residents, and postdoctoral fellows. He has provided extensive mentorship, including four undergraduates, six graduate students, and two post-doctoral fellows on several cutting-edge research techniques, including hd-EEG, TMS, and fMRI applied to both healthy and psychiatric populations. Through teaching, lectures, mentoring, and clinical supervision, he has contributed to fostering the career development of junior researchers and in-training investigators. As a psychiatrist with extensive research experience, he is highly motivated to train the next generation of physician-scientists interested in the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders.

Representative Publications

  1. Ferrarelli F, Kaskie RE, Graziano B, Reis CC, Casali AG. Abnormalities in the evoked frontal oscillatory activity of first-episode psychosis: A TMS/EEG study. Schizophr Res. 2018 Nov 22. pii: S0920-9964(18)30638-8. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.11.008. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30473213.
  2. Kaskie RE, Gill KM, Ferrarelli F. Reduced frontal slow wave density during sleep in first-episode psychosis. Schizophr Res. 2018 Oct 27. pii: S0920-9964(18)30626-1. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.10.024. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30377012.
  3. Baird B, Castelnovo A, Riedner BA, Lutz A, Ferrarelli F, Boly M, Davidson RJ, Tononi G. Human Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Shows Local Increases in Low-Frequency Oscillations and Global Decreases in High-Frequency Oscillations Compared to Resting Wakefulness. eNeuro. 2018 Aug 29;5(4). pii: ENEURO.0293-18.2018. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0293-18.2018. eCollection 2018 Jul-Aug. PubMed PMID: 30225358; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6140120.
  4. Dentico D, Bachhuber D, Riedner BA, Ferrarelli F, Tononi G, Davidson RJ, Lutz A. Acute effects of meditation training on the waking and sleeping brain: Is it all about homeostasis? Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Sep;48(6):2310-2321. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14131. PubMed PMID: 30144201.
  5. Wilckens KA, Ferrarelli F, Walker MP, Buysse DJ. Slow-Wave Activity Enhancement to Improve Cognition. Trends Neurosci. 2018 Jul;41(7):470-482. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2018.03.003. Epub 2018 Apr 5. Review. PubMed PMID: 29628198; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6015540.
  6. Kaskie RE, Ferrarelli F. Investigating the neurobiology of schizophrenia and other major psychiatric disorders with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Schizophr Res. 2017 May 3. PMID: 28478887
  7. Castelnovo A, D'Agostino A, Casetta C, Sarasso S, Ferrarelli F. Sleep Spindle Deficit in Schizophrenia: Contextualization of Recent Findings. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Aug; 18(8):72. PMID: 27299655
  8. Ferrarelli F, Riedner BA, Peterson MJ, Tononi G. Altered prefrontal activity and connectivity predict different cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Hum Brain Mapp. 2015 Nov; 36(11):4539-52. PMID: 26288380
  9. Sprecher KE, Ferrarelli F, Benca RM. Sleep and plasticity in schizophrenia. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015; 25: 433-58. PMID: 25608723
  10. Buchmann A, Dentico D, Peterson MJ, Riedner BA, Sarasso S, Massimini M, Tononi G, Ferrarelli F. Reduced mediodorsal thalamic volume and prefrontal cortical spindle activity in schizophrenia. Neuroimage. 2014 Nov 15; 102 Pt 2:540-7. PMID: 25139002