Development and Regeneration

Bachmann Ruxandra



Prof. Dr. med. Ruxandra Bachmann-Gagescu

Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Our research focuses on a group of human Mendelian disorders called ciliopathies which are unified by shared genetic causes resulting in primary cilium dysfunction. Primary cilia are small non-motile organelles present on the surface of most vertebrate cells where they are involved in transduction of sensory, mechanical or chemical signals and in regulation of signaling pathways during development and cell homeostasis. Typical clinical presentations of ciliopathies include neurological involvement, retinal degeneration and renal fibrocystic disease, as illustrated by Joubert syndrome (JS), an iconic ciliopathy which is the main focus of our research. To understand the consequences of mutations in JS-associated genes at the molecular level, we combine observations from human genetics studies on JS-patients with modelling in the zebrafish and in human iPSC-derived neurons using state-of-the-art techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing or live imaging of transgenically-tagged ciliary proteins.

Keywords: ciliopathies, primary cilia, Joubert syndrome, zebrafish, iPSC

Topics: Development and Regeneration, Disorders of the nervous system





Prof. Dr. Daniel Brandeis 
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich, University of Zurich

Research Focus: We focus on mapping brain functions and plasticity in typical development, neurodevelopmental disorders, and treatment with electrical and multimodal imaging (EEG-fMRI, MRS, with S. Brem). Clinical projects cover longitudinal brain mapping in common neurodevelopmental disorders like Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), aggression and Dyslexia. We characterize timing, localization and genetics (with E.  Grünblatt) of compromised networks as endophenotypes as state dependent deficits during rest, attention, inhibition, reward processing, or print tuning etc.  For clinical translation we focus on neurofeedback and biofeedback training (with R. Drechsler), and evaluate potential biomarkers using multimodal approaches.

Keywords: ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, conduct disorder, development, plasticity, functional brain mapping, EEG, ERP, fMRI, MRS,  neurofeedback, biofeedback, longitudinal studies, reading, attention, genetics, gene x environment interactions.

Topics: Disorders of the Nervous System, Development and Regeneration, Cognitive Neuroscience, Biomedical Technology and Imaging

Publications: pubmed





Prof. Dr. phil. Moritz M. Daum
Department of Psychology, Developmental Psychology: Infancy and Childhood, University of Zurich

Research Focus: The overarching aim of the Research Group “Developmental Psychology” is to address the roots of infants’ and young children’s perception and understanding of their social world. The understanding of others as social agents is one of the most fundamental skills in our everyday social life. It is crucial for any engagement in cooperative and communicative activities. In our research, we are particularly interested in the mechanisms that form the bedrock of infants’ action perception, the interrelation of infants’ early action perception comprehension to the control of their own actions, the selective implementation of observed actions in one’s own actions.

Current projects focus on the (neuro-)cognitive processes underlying infants’ and young children’s action understanding, the interrelation of action understanding and action performance across the whole lifespan, the interrelation of language and action in development, and the development of the self.

Keywords: developmental psychology, infancy, life span, cognitive development, action perception language, imitation, eye tracking, EEG

Topics: Development and Regeneration, Neural Basis of Behavior, Cognitive Neuroscience

Publications: pubmed




Edna Gruenblatt


Edna Grünblatt

Translational Molecular Psychiatry, University Clinic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich

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: Development and Regeneration, Disorders of the Nervous System, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Publications: pubmed





Prof. Dr. Reto Huber
University Children’s Hospital Zurich and University Clinics for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Sleep wake regulatory mechanisms seem to be casually related to cortical plasticity. More specifically, wakefulness favours synaptic strengthening or synapse formation. On the other hand, sleep, in particular deep sleep, promotes synaptic weakening or synapse elimination, ensuring synaptic homeostasis. Cortical plasticity plays a key role for brain maturation. A large body of evidence indicates that aberrations in the trajectory of cortical plasticity are linked to the development of psychiatric disorders. We investigate mechanism underlying the interplay between sleep and wakefulness and how such mechanisms may impact the remodelling of cortical circuits during development and therefore might be related to the susceptibility of psychopathology.

Keywords: sleep regulation, cortical maturation, synaptic plasticity, high-density EEG, MRI, closed-loop stimulation

Topics: Sleep and Sleep Disorders, Development and Regeneration

Publications: pubmed





Prof. Dr. Sebastian Jessberger
Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich

Research Focus: New neurons are continuously generated in two discrete areas of the adult brain – the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles. Our group is interested in the underlying biology of adult neurogenesis, including the fate plasticity of adult neural stem cells (NSCs) and the molecular mechanisms governing stem cell activity and neuronal integration. Currently, we use gene expression profiling together with analyses of the metabolic state of NSCs and their progeny to study the molecular framework of NSC diversity in the adult brain and to identify novel regulators of the neurogenic process. In addition, our laboratory aims to understand how physiologic and disease-associated alterations of the neurogenic niche are translated into stem cell-associated plastic changes of the adult brain on a cellular but also behavioral level.

Keywords: Neural stem cells, hippocampus, ageing

Topic: Development and Regeneration






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

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

Marie Labouesse


Dr. Marie Labouesse

Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich

Research Focus: BRAIN WIRING AND BEHAVIOR THROUGHOUT THE LIFESPAN. Our team strives to understand how long-range neural circuits wire and rewire throughout the lifespan, how they contribute to behavioral function, and how we can harness new, circuit-related findings to develop pharmacotherapies to treat brain disorders. Our work focuses on the basal ganglia and their inputs and outputs (including monoamines, like dopamine), with a special interest for neural systems critical for body homeostasis, e.g. brain circuits for reward and energy seeking (motivation, feeding, addiction) and for energy output (locomotion, motor function, exercise). Through this work, we hope to contribute a deeper understanding of the postnatal ontogeny and adult plasticity of basal ganglia circuits. We also aim at developing and screening targeted therapeutic approaches to treat basal ganglia and dopamine related brain disorders. This includes illnesses such as mood disorders, eating disorders, addiction, obesity or Parkinson’s disease.

Keywords: wiring, experience, neural circuits, basal ganglia, behavior, optical tools, in vivo fluorescent imaging, biosensors, pharmacotherapy, neuropharmacology, transgenic models.

Topics: Neural Basis of Behavior, Development and Regeneration

Publications: Google Scholar





Prof. Dr. Nicolas Langer
Methods of Plasticity Research, Department of Psychology, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Our lab develops and obtains new neurophysiological and neuroimaging measures in the context of human brain and behavioral plasticity. Specifically, we investigate the potential for plasticity, mechanisms for stabilization and compensation across the lifespan. In particular, we investigate the relationship between brain plasticity and cognitive functioning, such as perceptual processing, learning, (working-) memory, decision-making and processing speed.
In this context of neuroplasticity research, we are designing and implementing novel multi-modal paradigms (e.g. combined EEG eye-tracking), extracting and associate them with state of the art neuroscientific methods, such as functional network models, machine learning, longitudinal analyses and computational modeling. These paradigms can also be used to decompose the critical component processes underlying performance of the behavioral tests that are used routinely in clinical diagnosis. This multi-level, multi-modal design allows us to study cognitive performance and perception at their desired level of analysis, and to elucidate variations in performance across the continuum from healthy to pathological functioning. To investigate those research aims and objectives, we are using a variety of psychological and neuroscientific methods, such as EEG, eye-tracking, structural MRI & DTI, psychophysiology)
Keywords: EEG, eye-tracking, cognitive modeling, machine-learning, cognition, multi-modal imaging, structural MRI, DTI, development, neurophenotyping, Research Domain Criteria (RDoC).

Topics: Cognitive Neuroscience, Computation and Modeling, Neural Basis of Behavior, Development and Regeneration




Tuura Ruth