ENC PhD projects cycle 5

Projects cycle 5 started

For the 5th cycle of this Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate program, we have selected 6 students. They started their work in the Fall of 2014. On this page you can find links to more information about the 6 projects of cycle 5.

Project 1: AMPAR auxiliary subunits Stargazin and Shisa6 : role in AMPAR trafficking and physiology

P01-Zamri-smallPhD student: Azra Elia Zamri, Malaysia
Home Institute: Bordeaux Neuroscampus; Principle Investigator: Daniel Choquet
Host Institute: Amsterdam Neuroscience; Principle Investigator: Guus Smit

Regulation of AMPAR stabilization at synapses is a hallmark of synaptic plasticity. Despite over a decade of research, we still do not understand the molecular basis of activity-dependent AMPAR stabilization, likely originating from the incomplete view we had of the AMPAR complex composition that contains many auxiliary subunits in addition to the core GluA subunits. Indeed, AMPARs form complexes with several auxiliary proteins that play key roles in their trafficking, stability, gating properties and pharmacology. >Go to Executive Summery

Project 2: Bridging the anatomy and physiology of neocortical circuits

P02-Azhikkattuparambil-smallPhD student: Arjun Bashkaran, India
Home Institute: Bordeaux Neuroscampus; Principle Investigator: Andreas Frick
Host Institute: Neuroscience Center Zürich; Principle Investigator: Fritjof Helmchen
2nd Host Institute: European Neuroscience Institute Göttingen; Principle Investigator: Jochen Staiger

In the mammalian neocortex, a quantitative knowledge of the brain-wide distribution of neurons that are presynaptically connected to a specific neuron type is completely lacking. Furthermore, it is unknown how activity in these presynaptic neurons contributes to the activity of the postsynaptic neuron. Recent studies are beginning to elucidate how neocortical neurons that are projecting to different target brain regions are differentially engaged by behavioral tasks (e.g. Chen et al., 2013 Nature). We are now in the position to bring these different aspects – the detailed wide-spread input connectivity on one hand and the functional activation patterns of presynaptic neuron pools on the other – together, to shed light on how the structure of the neocortex relates to its function. >Go to Executive Summery

Project 3: Long-range neuronal connectivity in neurodevelopmental disorders

P03-Aime-smallPhD student: Aime Mattia, Italy
Home Institute: Bordeaux Neurocampus; Principle Investigator: Yann Humeau
Host Institute: Amsterdam Neuroscience; Principle Investigator: Rhiannon Meredith

Development of our cognitive abilities requires the correct formation of neuronal connections in brain circuitry. Abnormal brain activity and increased cortical neuron density occur in many intellectual disability (ID) disorders and autism1.Clinicians theorise that misregulated neuronal connectivity in the brain underlies cognitive impairments in neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) >Go to Executive Summery

Project 4: Synaptic biomarkers for early diagnosis and monitoring of AD

P04-Madhurima-smallPhD student: Chatterjee Madhurima, India
Home Institute: Amsterdam Neuroscience; Principle Investigator: Charlotte Teunissen
Host Institute: European Neuroscience Institute Göttingen; Principle Investigator: Detlev Schild

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, which imposes an increasing burden to society due to the aging population. Early diagnosis of AD is as yet hampered by the lack of sensitive and cost-effective tools. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers amyloid beta(Abeta)1-42 protein, combined with tau and phosphorylated tau proteins are well established biomarkers for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and have some value in early diagnosis of this disease (Blennow et al, Nat Rev Neurology 2010). However, blood-based tests are a prerequisite for repeated collection that is needed during screening and monitoring of progression and therapy responses. No such biomarkers are available yet for use in clinical practice of Alzheimer’s disease. >Go to Executive Summery

Project 5: Characterization of the molecular interactors of SynCAM/CADM1 during neural circuit formation

P05-Rai-smallPhD student: Surya Prakash Rai, Nepal
Home Institute: Neuroscience Center Zürich; Principle Investigator: Esther Stoeckli
Host Institute: Bordeaux Neurocampus Principle Investigator: Nathalie Sans
2nd Host Institute: Amsterdam Neuroscience;Principle Investigator: To be defined

Neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, or intellectual disability, are characterized by aberrant neuronal connectivity. Mostly, the focus is put on synaptic plasticity that is reduced in patients compared to healthy subjects. However, the long lists of candidate genes associated with these neurodevelopmental disorders by genome-wide association studies or linkage analyses include a number of genes with a role in axon guidance. Furthermore, some of the genes identified for a role in synaptogenesis or synaptic plasticity have also been implicated in earlier aspects of neural circuit formation. >Go to Executive Summery

Project 6: High-resolution imaging of the functional interplay between surface NMDA receptor and proteasome

P06-Kellermayer-smallPhD student: Blanka Kellermayer, Hungary
Home Institute: Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology Coimbra; Principle Investigator: Ana Louisa Carvalho
Host Institute: Bordeaux Neuroscampus; Principle Investigator: Laurent Groc

The majority of synaptic contacts in the central nervous system use glutamate for neurotransmission, which binds to several types of receptors, including N-methyl-D- aspartate receptors (NMDAR) and alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole receptors (AMPAR). NMDAR regulate the synaptic content of AMPAR during synaptic plasticity, the process thought to underlie learning and memory formation. Synaptic maturation and long-term changes in the synaptic strength require a tight balance between protein synthesis and protein degradation, the last being regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. >Go to Executive Summery

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