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Molecular signaling in neurodegenerative disorders – A special interest group

Neurons from the substantia Nigra pars compacta in red. Photo.
In substantia nigra, neurons expressing Calretinin seem to be more resistant to damage. Photo: Lautaro Belfiori.

MultiPark’s new special interest groups (SIGs) address essential scientific and technological needs and provide opportunities for professional development and network formation to our young scientists. One of them focus on molecular signaling. Lautaro Belfiori is the convening person. He shares with us how they plan to work with questions related to molecular signaling.

Can you shortly describe the research topics included in your SIG? 

This SIG combines a broad range of research topics, ranging from genetics to studying the mechanisms and technical developments in gene therapy. We also include epigenetic mechanisms and their associated effects on different neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders as well as brain tumors.

For example, ApoE is a significant genetic risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. We consider the effect of different ApoE genotypes in the mechanisms involved in the degeneration observed in that disorder. Another focus is the development of new rodent models of cognitive deficits and impulse control disorders relevant to Parkinson’s disease. In addition to improving rodent models for translational research, we investigate maladaptive neuroplasticity associated with movement disorders.

Which of MultiPark’s strategic goals does it best align with? 

Our work targets several of the strategic goals. We will also support, develop, and use MultiPark’s state-of-the-art facilities for studies of disease mechanisms, plasticity, and repair. Our joint efforts will hopefully result in the development of new cellular and animal models that better reflect human disease. This may be useful for exploring novel disease modifying therapeutic interventions. Eventually, our work may result in new therapeutic approaches for prevention, disease modification and management of unmet medical needs.

What are your overarching goals? 

We want to strengthen the internal collaboration within MultiPark’s local environment, facilitating knowledge exchange between the groups. In addition, we will promote the use and access to technology exchange between the groups and with core facilities at MultiPark.

What activities do you plan?

To begin with, we plan to start recurring “work in progress” meetings where the presenting person will show what they are working on and the state of their projects, including unfinished work or planned.

How many early-career researchers (PhD students, postdocs) are affiliated with this SIG?

So far, only two, so I really encourage junior scientists at MultiPark to join. Participating in our SIG will help them to broaden their network and technical knowledge. In this way, we aim to promote new collaborations between our researchers.

How do you think that these early-career researchers can contribute to the SIG?

They could contribute with technical and hands-on expertise in the daily execution of different techniques. Ph.D. students and Postdocs are involved in most of the everyday work at the laboratory. Their contribution to the SIG is essential, and I encourage them to join.