News Release

How does neurodevelopment affect diseases in adulthood?

New DFG Research Training Group at FAU with 48 doctoral candidates

Grant and Award Announcement

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

The Research Training Group, which builds on translational research training programmes and research structures such as the Molecular Medicine degree programme and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research, will work on areas where basic research and clinical practice overlap. It will bring together 20 doctoral candidates from the natural sciences and 28 from medicine.

The defining aspect of the training and research programme is its focus on the relationship between the development of the brain and diseases of the nervous system. 'In the past the mechanisms of neurodevelopment and the development of diseases in adulthood have mainly been considered separately. The Research Training Group is taking a new approach and will investigate the influence that development processes have on susceptibility with regard to events that trigger disease at later stages in life,' explains Prof. Dr. Dieter Chichung Lie, Professor of Molecular Medicine and speaker of the Research Training Group.

The interdisciplinary doctoral research projects are closely interconnected and will be supervised by a team of developmental biologists, neuroscientists and medical practitioners. 'In this way, our doctoral candidates will benefit from a new training concept, allowing them to combine their strengths and work on projects together,' says Prof. Lie, 'The doctoral candidates from the natural sciences will gain more insight into clinical issues, while those from the field of medicine will have a new opportunity to consider basic research into diseases.'

The researchers hope that the Research Training Group will lead to new findings on topics such as how sensitive humans are to diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) or to what extent genes play a role in the development of diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

In order to model interactions between development and disease processes, the Research Training Group will use both animal models and pluripotent stem cells from patients. Analysis will be conducted using cutting-edge techniques from molecular, developmental and cell biology, genomics, biochemistry, electrophysiology and behavioural biology.

'With the approval of the new Research Training Group, FAU can provide more intensive training in the field of neuroscience, which will ensure its doctoral candidates are excellently prepared for the next stage of their careers,' says Prof. Lie.


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