Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Dietmar Benke

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PD Dr. Dietmar Benke
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich
benke@pharma.uzh.ch

Research Focus: GABAB receptors control neuronal excitability by mediating slow inhibitory neurotransmission. They are involved in virtually all main brain functions and have been implicated in numerous neurological disorders making them attractive drug targets. Our research focuses on the regulation of GABAB receptors by trafficking mechanisms and interacting proteins under normal and pathological conditions. Our ultimate goal is to uncover mechanisms of GABAB receptor dysregulation in disease states and use this information for designing novel therapeutic strategies. Current projects concentrate on the regulation of GABAB receptor cell surface expression by phosphorylation, ubiquitination and interacting proteins and its contribution to neuronal plasticity. In addition, we explore the potential to prevent downregulation of GABAB receptors in cerebral ischemia with small synthetic peptides interfering with protein-protein interactions as a novel neuroprotective strategy.

Keywords: GABAB receptor, trafficking, plasticity, neurological disorders

Topic: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Publications: pubmed

Website: http://www.pharma.uzh.ch/research.html

 

   
Johannes Bohacek

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Dr. Johannes Bohacek, Junior Group Leader 
Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich 
bohacek@hifo.uzh.ch

Research Focus: We are interested in understanding the organism-wide consequences of stress, and how the complex stress-response leads to changes in behavior and increases the risk for neuropsychiatric disease. We use mice as a model organism to study stress-induced effects in the CNS, but also in the germline. We use optogenetic, transcriptomic, pharmacologic, epigenetic and behavioral approaches combined with assisted reproductive techniques.

Keywords: stress, anxiety, transcriptome, hippocampus, transgenerational non-genetic inheritance, epigenetics

Topics: Neural Basis of Behavior, Disorders of the Nervous System, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Publications: pubmed       

Website:  http://www.hifo.uzh.ch/en/research/mansuy/bohacek.html

 

   
Steven Brown

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Prof. Dr. Steven Brown 
Chronobiology and Sleep Research Group, Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich 
steven.brown@pharma.uzh.ch

Research Focus: Humans are diurnal animals.  Not only is one-third of our lives spent asleep, but nearly all aspects of physiology vary according to time of day, directed by biological “circadian” clocks in nearly all cells of the brain and body.  Our laboratory is interested in the molecular mechanisms that govern these clocks and their control of sleep, using a mixture of biochemistry, microscopy and electrophysiology in genetically modified mice and human cellular model systems.  For example, we have shown recently how particular families of ion channels control cortical oscillations during sleep, how RNAs are directed to synapses by clock-associated proteins, and that dynamic DNA methylation in the brain can reprogram daily transcriptional cycles.

Keywords: Sleep, circadian clock, transcription, inhibitory synapse, IPSC, RNA transport, metabolism

Topics: Sleep & Sleep Disorders, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Neural Basis of Behavior

Publications & Website: www.sbrownlab.com

   
Giovanni Camici

 

PD Dr. Giovanni G. Camici

Head of Center for Molecular Cardiology, University of Zurich
giovanni.camici@uzh.ch

Research Focus: Molecular mechanisms by which aging affects vascular function and how these mechanisms are relevant to major age-related disorders such as stroke. The main hypothesis of this team is based on the idea that aging and cerebrovascular disease such as stroke, occur through similar mechanisms oftentimes involving the generation of highly reactive and deleterious “reactive oxygen species” (ROS). In line with this hypothesis, several genes which mediate the process of aging are also involved in the generation of ROS.

Keywords: Aging, stroke, vascular/endothelial dysfunction, thrombosis, ROS.

Topic: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Publications: pubmed

Website: http://www.cmc.uzh.ch/index.html

 

   
foeldy

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Prof. Dr. Csaba Földy
Brain Research Institute, Laboratory of Neural Connectivity, University of Zurich
foldy@hifo.uzh.ch

Research Focus: We are interested in the role of synapses in brain function. Synapses serve as fundamental sites of information transmission between neurons, with different synapses characterized by different qualities of that transmission. Frequently, these qualities are associated with the type of neurons being connected. We reason that if synaptic transmission forms the basis of information processing in the brain, and that synaptic properties can be studied in a cell-type specific manner, we will reach a deeper understanding of the brain’s information processing by performing molecular and computational analyses of synapses, as defined by their connected cell types. In pursuit of this interest, we use electrophysiology, molecular biology, and computational modeling analyses.

Topics: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Computation and Modeling

Website: http://www.hifo.uzh.ch/research/foldy.html

 

   
Jean-Marc Fritschy

 

Prof. Jean-Marc Fritschy
Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Co-Director ZNZ
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich
fritschy@pharma.uzh.ch

Research Focus: A major topic of research is the functional organization and plasticity of the GABAergic system, using a multidisciplinary approach ranging from molecular and cell biology to immunoelectron microscopy. Transgenic mice expressing reported genes in neurons of interest, as well as mutant mice with targeted gene deletions affecting the GABAergic system, are essential to our in vivo experiments. In particular, we investigate the role of GABAergic transmission in the regulation of neuronal proliferation, differentiation, and synaptic integration, using adult neurogenesis as a model system. We are also working with mouse models of temporal lobe epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer, Parkinson), with a specific focus on neuro-immune interactions and the contribution of inflammation to pathophysiology of these brain diseases.

Keywords: GABA; gephyrin; synaptic function; synaptic plasticity; gene transfer; temporal lobe epilepsy; inflammation

Topic: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Website: http://www.pharma.uzh.ch/neuromorpho

 

   
Christian Grimm

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Prof. Dr. Christian Grimm
Department of Ophthalmology, Lab for Retinal Cell Biology, University Hospital Zurich
cgrimm@opht.uzh.ch

Research Focus: Although many patients worldwide suffer from retinal degenerations, there are currently no therapies for the successful treatment of most blinding diseases of the retina. Our work focuses on biochemical events and signaling cascades during retinal degenerations. The goal is to understand the molecular pathways induced by the disease-causing stimuli to develop strategies (neuroprotection, gene therapy) which may ultimately rescue vision in patients.

Current projects focus i) on intercellular signaling with special emphasis on the interaction between photoreceptors and Müller glia cells; ii) on leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) with respect to its potential function as modulator of stem cell-like properties of Müller cells; iii) on the analysis of cone pathophysiology using a newly developed ‘all-cone mouse’; and iv) on acute and chronic hypoxia as potent modulators of photoreceptor survival and degeneration, respectively.

Keywords: Retinal degeneration, hypoxia, leukemia inhibitory factor, retina, blindness, cones, neuroprotection, gene therapy

Topics: Sensory Systems; Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Disorders of the Nervous System

Publications: http://home.ggaweb.ch

Website: http://home.ggaweb.ch/LabForRetinalCellBiology/

 

   
Edna Grünblatt

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Prof. Dr. Edna Grünblatt
Neurobiochemistry Laboratory, University Clinic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich

edna.gruenblatt@kjpdzh.ch

Research Focus: We are interested in finding risk factors and biomarkers for child and adolescent psychiatric disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), early-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), psychosis and environmental /stress effects. In addition, the laboratory focuses on functional mechanisms of action of gene variants found to associate to a specific disorder as well as mechanism of action of drug therapies in various neuronal cellular models. Since psychiatric disorders are not only polygenetic predisposed but also influenced by environmental factors, epigenetic is another factor investigated in the lab. This could provide additional tools for early and differential diagnosis as well as therapy prediction.

Keywords: ADHD, ASD, biochemistry, child and adolescent psychiatry, epigenetic, genetic, molecular biology, neurodevelopmental disorders, neuronal cellular models, OCD, psychosis, transcriptomics

Topics: Disorders of the Nervous System, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Projects: research-projects.uzh.ch  kjpd.uzh.ch

Publications: pubmed

Website:http://www.kjpd.uzh.ch/de/biochem-lab.html

   
karayannis

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Prof. Dr. Theofanis Karayannis
Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich

karayannis@hifo.uzh.ch

Research Focus: The brain begins to form during embryogenesis, but undergoes a protracted period of development that lasts into adulthood. Our work is aimed at understanding how the environment moulds the construction and reconfiguration of neuronal circuits to allow them to effectively process and respond to external stimuli throughout development. The goal is to unravel how the interplay between electrical activity and genetic programs controls the assembly and plasticity of cortical circuits that are involved in processing and gating sensory information. To achieve this, we utilize a multi-dimensional approach that includes molecular, genetic and functional methods. It is our hope that this research will not only provide insights into the making of the healthy brain, but also into neurodevelopmental brain pathologies resulting from aberrant circuit wiring.

Topics: Development and Regeneration, Sensory Systems, Disorders of the Nervous System, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Neural Basis of Behavior

Website: http://www.hifo.uzh.ch/en/research/karayannis/karayannisPeople.html
 

   
Annika Keller