Section: Overview
Key publications
Research funding
Supervising & teaching

Key details

Areas of expertise

  • Clinical exercise physiology
  • Exercise is Medicine
  • Exercise and Motor Neuron Disease
  • Muscle Oxidative Metabolism
  • pathophysiology

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

About Alessandra Ferri

Prior to joining VU, Dr Alessandra Ferri was a Senior Lecturer in Human Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy.

As an exercise physiologist, her research focuses on studying the pathophysiology of the transport (lung and heart) and utilisation (muscle) of oxygen, and on using this physiological information to design tailored exercise training to improve:

  • muscle health (in particular strength and aerobic capacity)
  • physical function and quality of life in different clinical populations (e.g., individuals with motor neurone disease, metabolic myopathies, heart-transplanted patients, children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia), and in the elderly.

Alessandra has always been passionate about the concept of "Exercise is Medicine," and in 2017 she was awarded a $95,000 grant to understand the role of exercise in individuals with Motor Neuron Disease (one of the last diseases where the beneficial effects of exercise have not yet been recognised).

She has 20 peer-reviewed articles published in high impact physiological journal, 3 books chapters, and 40 conference papers. She has been awarded the "Young Investigator Award" at the ECSS Conference for a paper on the effects of resistance training in elderly people.


  • PhD, University of Burgundy, France, 2002
  • Masters, University of Burgundy, France 1998

Key publications

Year Citation
2021 Ferri, A., Yan, X., Kuang, J., Granata, C., Oliveira, R. SF., Hedges, C. P., Lima-Silva, A. E., Billaut, F., & Bishop, D. J. (210801). Fifteen days of moderate normobaric hypoxia does not affect mitochondrial function, and related genes and proteins, in healthy men. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 121(8), (2323-2336).

doi: 10.1007/s00421-021-04706-4

2019 Ferri, A., Lanfranconi, F., Corna, G., Bonazzi, R., Marchese, S., Magnoni, A., & Tremolizzo, L. (191226). Tailored Exercise Training Counteracts Muscle Disuse and Attenuates Reductions in Physical Function in Individuals With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Frontiers in Physiology, 10

doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01537

2018 Ferri, A., Panariti, A., Miserocchi, G., Rocchetti, M., Buoli, Comani., Rivolta, I., & Bishop, D. J. (180801). Tissue specificity of mitochondrial adaptations in rats after 4weeks of normobaric hypoxia. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 118(8), (1641-1652).

doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-3897-9

2017 Lanfranconi, F., Ferri, A., Corna, G., Bonazzi, R., Lunetta, C., Silani, V., Riva, N., Rigamonti, A., Maggiani, A., & Ferrarese, C. (171201). Inefficient skeletal muscle oxidative function flanks impaired motor neuron recruitment in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis during exercise. Scientific Reports, 7(1),

doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02811-z

2016 Maggiani, A., Tremolizzo, L., Valentina, A. D., Mapelli, L., Sosio, S., Milano, V., Bianchi, M., Badi, F., Lavazza, C., & Grandini, M. (160901). Osteopathic manual treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A feasibility pilot study. Open Neurology Journal, 10 (59-66).

doi: 10.2174/1874205X01610010059

2014 Lanfranconi, F., Pollastri, L., Ferri, A., Fraschini, D., Masera, G., & Miserocchi, G. (140623). Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as a new non-invasive tool to detect oxidative skeletal muscle impairment in children survived to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. PLoS ONE, 9(6),

doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099282

2012 Ferri, A., Adamo, S., Torre, A. L., Marzorati, M., Bishop, D. J., & Miserocchi, G. (120801). Determinants of performance in 1,500-m runners. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112(8), (3033-3043).

doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2251-2

2007 Ferri, A., Adamo, S., Longaretti, M., Marzorati, M., Lanfranconi, F., Marchi, A., & Grassi, B. (070701). Insights into central and peripheral factors affecting the "oxidative performance" of skeletal muscle in aging. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 100(5), (571-579).

doi: 10.1007/s00421-006-0371-x

2007 Grassi, B., Marzorati, M., Lanfranconi, F., Ferri, A., Longaretti, M., Stucchi, A., Vago, P., Marconi, C., & Morandi, L. (070401). Impaired oxygen extraction in metabolic myopathies: Detection and quantification by near-infrared spectroscopy. Muscle and Nerve, 35(4), (510-520).

doi: 10.1002/mus.20708

2006 Lanfranconi, F., Borrelli, E., Ferri, A., Porcelli, S., Maccherini, M., Chiavarelli, M., & Grassi, B. (060801). Noninvasive evaluation of skeletal muscle oxidative metabolism after heart transplant. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(8), (1374-1383).

doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000228943.62776.69

Research funding for the past 5 years

Please note:

  • Funding is ordered by the year the project commenced and may continue over several years.
  • Funding amounts for contact research are not disclosed to maintain commercial confidentiality.
  • The order of investigators is not indicative of the role they played in the research project.

The neuroprotective potential of exercise in individuals with MND - a paradigm changing idea
From: NHMRC Ideas Grants
Other investigators: Prof David Bishop
For period: 2023-2025

Using Brain Stimulation to Improve Strength and Function in Individuals with Cerebal Palsy
From: Career Development Grant
Other investigators: Dr Jacqueline Williams
For period: 2019-2022

Supervision of research students at VU

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

Currently supervised research students at VU

No. of students Study level Role
1 PhD Principal supervisor

Currently supervised research students at VU

Students & level Role
PhD (1) Principal supervisor

Other supervision of research students

Co-supervisor 1 PhD student, University of Milano, Italy (completed). Co-supervisor 3 Medical Doctors for specialization in Sport Medicine, University of Milano Bicocca, Italy (completed). Co-supervisor 4 theses in the Medical Doctor School, University of Milano and University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy (completed).


Year Award

Young Investigator Award - ECSS