Group leader Prof. Marten Smidt
Research in our lab is covered by one overarching theme: Brain development in Health and Disease. Nowadays it is generally accepted that many neurological disorders reflected in the adult, find their origin in the developing nervous system. Our primary aim is to dissect the genetic mechanisms underlying fundamental molecular processes during development of the brain, in order to gain more insight in the causes of neuro-related diseases. Studies within the Molecular Neuroscience Lab concentrate on two main areas: the cortex and the midbrain. The development of both regions has been shown to be governed by complex genetic programs, which, when changed, can lead to severe neuro-related diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease.
Five separate topics are distinguished, all lead by Principal Investigators:
- Molecular mechanisms in midbrain development
- Signal transduction in the developing and adult midbrain
- Insulin signalling and circadian rhythms in the developing and adult brain
- Functional development of cortical microcircuits
- Primate Genome Evolution and Human Brain Development
The separate research groups are unified not only by one common theme, but also by shared technologies and internal collaborations. The group uses a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, such as in utero electroporations in the embryonic cortex, the generation of cortical organoids (minibrains) from human stem cells and patch-clamp techniques in brain slices. The available technologies give us the opportunities to modulate genetic programs and signal transduction pathways in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro, and subsequently monitor functional consequences. In this way we strive for making progress in understanding how the brain is build and, ultimately, how a diseased brain could be cured.