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Funding for new research projects at UKE

German Research Foundation promotes priority programme focusing on neuronal basis of behaviour

Neuro researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) are to receive around EUR 1.9 million from the German Research Foundation (DFG) until August 2019, a press release said Thursday (November 3). Funding has been underway since 2013. The nationwide priority programme, led by UKE, will receive EUR 15 million in funds. Scientists at UKE are examining how nerve cells in the brain contribute individually and collectively to certain kinds of behaviour.

Improved recognition of changes

Prof. Dr. Ileana Hanganu-Opatz from the Centre for Experimental Medicine, said: “We want to understand in particular how the nerve cells allow certain behaviour.” Hanganu-Opatz is co-ordinating 38 work groups across Germany in the Priority Programme 1665 called “Resolving and manipulating neuronal networks in the mammalian brain – from correlative to causal analysis”. She added: “When we understand the brain’s normal functions, we will be better able to recognise the changes that lead to behavioural disorders.”

Light for the brain – optogenetics

Scientists in Hamburg are relying on optogenetics – a technique in neuroscience in which genes for light-sensitive proteins are introduced into specific types of brain cells in order to monitor and control their activity precisely using light signals. Optogenetics allows researchers to control how nerve cells communicate. Mathematicians use the data gained to develop models describing the functions of the brain. Two projects at UKE are being funded.

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