The Willuhn group receives 800,000 euros for their research into a better understanding of neuronal connectivity and function in complex neuronal networks relevant in psychiatric disorders. The research is part of a larger project named BRAINSCAPES, which is a collaboration between VU University, Utrechtv University, Leiden University, Amsterdam UMC, TU Delft, the Hubrecht Institute, and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.
“In the BRAINSCAPES project, our group will conduct behavioral experiments using transgenic rat lines designed to manipulate the dopamine system with chemo- and opto-genetic tools combined with in vivo measuring tools such as fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, electrophysiology, and calcium imaging” explains Ingo Willuhn. “The goal of these studies is to ask how specific types of neural cells are engaged and in that way they are responsible for pathological behavior, observed in animal models for eating-related disorders, substance abuse, and depression.”
Recent genetic discovery studies have provided unprecedented insight into the genes involved in brain disorders. The next step is to use this knowledge for gaining mechanistic disease insight. In BRAINSCAPES, we will develop novel analytic and experimental tools to study the functional consequences of risk genes for the function of specific cells, their circuits, and functional output. We aim to provide insight into the molecular and cellular basis of complex brain disorders that can be used to design novel treatments.
INNOVATIVE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
The contribution is part of the Gravitation program which is funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Dutch Research Council (NWO) selects the research groups on behalf of the Ministry. One of the pillars of the program is the collaboration across disciplines and universities. With the funding, researchers will be able to collaborate in top-level, multidisciplinary university research for a period of ten years.