Invited speakers

Presidential lecture:

By Royal Society uploader - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Hausser

Professor of Neuroscience and Wellcome Principal Research Fellow

Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research – University College London

Michael Häusser has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of how the complex dendritic structures of nerve cells contribute to the functional computations that occur in the mammalian brain. He has achieved this by the introduction and exploitation of advanced techniques, coupled with careful quantitative analysis and modelling of the experimental results. His most distinctive contribution has been to illuminate how non-linear mechanisms in neuronal dendrites contribute to the complex behaviour and plasticity of nerve networks in the brain

Citation from Michael Hausser’s certificate of election to the Royal Society

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Keynote lecture:

Frank Polleux Polleux

Columbia University

Research in Frank Polleux’s laboratory focuses on three important questions relevant to brain development, aging and evolution:

  1. What are the cellular and molecular mechanisms patterning the connectivity of cortical circuits during mammalian development?
  2. What are the signaling mechanisms underlying synaptic loss during early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?
  3. What are the genetic mechanisms that led to the evolution of human cortical circuits?

Their work provides new insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the establishment and maintenance of brain connectivity and has significant implications for our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying socially-devastating neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

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Plenary Speaker:

Gwyneth CardGwyneth Card

Group leader HHMI-Janelia research campus

The Card Lab studies the neural mechanisms and circuit architectures that underlie behavior choice for ecologically relevant, visually-guided behaviors of the fly. Their work combines high-throughput, high-resolution behavioral quantification with genetic, electrophysiological, and functional imaging techniques.

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Plenary Speaker:

Magdalena Goetz - Helmholtz Zentrum MunchenMagdalena Götz

Head of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Department of Physiological Genomics
Director of the Institute of Stem Cell Research – Helmholz Center Munich
Regular member of the Munich Center for Neurosciences – Brain and Mind

Among her achievements, Dr. Magdalena Götz discovered that glial cells, which form the supporting tissue of the nervous system, also have stem cell properties, and she thereby initiated a paradigm shift in neuroscience. Götz identified a molecular mechanism in which the transcription factor Pax6 stimulates glial cells in a few regions of the adult brain to generate neurons. The fact that glial cells function as stem cells and that neurons can emerge from them raises a new perspective on neurogenesis and the differentiation of the cerebral cortex.

Götz and her team also investigated how glial cells behave after injury to the brain. Initially, she was able to show that the transcription factor Pax6 stimulates some glial cells to form immature neurons even after injury. In more recent model experiments, she succeeded in transforming the treated glial cells almost completely into mature and functional nerve cells. Her research is therefore of great importance for applied stem cell research and new therapeutic approaches to brain injuries and diseases.

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Plenary Speaker:

Heidi McBrideHeidi McBride

Canada Research Chair in Mitochondrial Cell Biology
Professor, McGill University
Montreal Neurological Institute
Neuromuscular Research Group

Dr. Heidi McBride’s lab takes a number of complementary approaches to try and understand why the mitochondria behave as an interconnected group, and what this means to the cell, the tissue, and the body. Importantly, mutations in mitochondrial shape-shifting proteins lead to serious degenerative diseases, and the plasticity of these organelles is tied directly to clearing away damaged sections of protein and lipid. Mitochondrial dysfunction is now causally linked to ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, and others.

By characterizing the details of mitochondrial behavior, the McBride lab aims to identify new therapeutic approaches to treating degenerative disease. Operating within the Rare Neurological Disease Group, the lab is part of a multidisciplinary team, contributing an expertise in the cell biology of mitochondrial dysfunction to the complex pathogenesis of motorneuron and other degenerative diseases.

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