Marika Cai grew up in Italy, where she earned a B.S. in Biotechnology and a M.S. in Biotechnology in Medicine at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan. Her Master thesis research was conducted in the laboratory of Prof. Carlo Ferrarese, where she studied the role of brain collateral vessels in affecting stroke outcome. During the same period she spent an internship as visiting student in the laboratory of Cerebral Ischemia of Prof. Alastair Buchan at the University of Oxford.
She received her Ph.D. training in Dr. Ali Erturk’s lab, at the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research (ISD), Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, Germany, and she was part of the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences at the same University. For her doctoral project, Marika focused on how acute brain injuries can cause changes at whole-body level. In particular, she developed new tissue clearing technologies which are able to render entire organisms transparent for 3D imaging at single-cell resolution.
She joined Tessier-Lavigne lab with an interest in studying the mechanisms of structural plasticity in the intact adult brain using DISCO tissue clearing and light-sheet imaging.