Genes, Development And Behavior
Department of Translational Neuroscience
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Student Projects

Molecular biology of axon growth

Aim: identify the molecules that control axon growth
Experimental work: microarray & microRNA array analysis, quantitative PCR, gene cloning, cell biology, gene transfer, neuron culture, microscopy
Contact: Jeroen Pasterkamp

Development of striatal and dopaminergic pathways

Aim: understand how mesostriatal circuits are wired
Experimental work: in situ hybridization, neuroanatomy, immunocytochemistry, FACS and microarray analysis, cell and explant culture, in utero electroporation, genetic mouse models, microscopy
Contact: Jeroen Pasterkamp

Identification of receptor and intracellular signalling proteins involved in axon guidance

Aim: determine how neurons sense and respond to axon growth and guidance cues
Experimental work: proteomics, biochemistry, cell biology, in situ hybridization, neuroanatomy, immunocytochemistry, genetic mouse models, microscopy
Contact: Jeroen Pasterkamp

The molecular basis of ALS

Aim: characterize recently identified ALS susceptibility genes (in collaboration with Department of Neurology, UMC Utrecht)
Experimental work: cell biology, in situ hybridization, neuroanatomy, immunocytochemistry, genetic mouse models, microscopy.
Contact: Jeroen Pasterkamp

Role of genes in energy balance and feeding behavior

Aim: determine the role of genes in the brain by studying gene expression and local knockdown of genes by RNAi
Experimental work: injection of AAV in rat brain, behavioural analysis, neuroanatomy

Contact: Roger Adan

Unravelling mechanisms of overconsumption

Aim: determine the neural substrate that underlies overconsumption
Experimental work: behavioural analysis, neuroanatomical techniques (in situ hybridisation etc)

Contact: Roger Adan

Striatal substrates of cocaine addiction

Aim: determine how alterations in dopamine and glutamate neurotransmission in the rat striatum underlie the progression of cocaine use to cocaine addiction.
Experimental work: drug self-administration, stereotaxic surgery, behavioral pharmacology

Contact: Louk Vanderschuren

The neurobiology of social motivation and reward

Aim: determine which neural systems are involved in the motivational and rewarding properties of social play behavior in adolescent rats.
Experimental work: place conditioning, runway conditioning, visual analysis of behavior, behavioral pharmacology

Contact: Louk Vanderschuren

The genetic basis of alcohol abuse

Aim: determine which genes are responsible for the escalation of alcohol intake in mice.
Experimental work: drug self-administration, PCR, in situ hydridisation

Contact: Louk Vanderschuren

The importance of stress hormone pulsatility for keeping the brain responsive to stress.

Objective: The importance of stress hormone pulsatility for keeping the brain responsive to stress.
Techniques: field potential recordings in slice preparations from rodent brain
Contact: Henk Karst

The influence of early life environment on behavioral function in adulthood

Objective: The influence of early life environment on behavioral function in adulthood.
Techniques: behavioral observations, neuropharmacology

Contact: Henk Karst

In vivo electrophysiology and optogenetics to study food choice

Aim: apply in vivo electrophysiology and optogenetics to relate neuronal firing to feeding
Experimental work: viral vector technology, behavior, electrophysiology, optogenetics


Contact: Roger Adan

Neural mechanisms underlying anorectic behaviors

Aim: to understand which neural circuits and signaling pathways underly the loss of appetite
Experimental work: behavioral analysis, viral vector technology, neuroanatomy

Contact: Roger Adan

Optogenetics and DREADD technology to understand neural circuits of feeding behavior

Aim: determine the role of specific neural circuits in feeding
Experimental work: optogenetics, DREADD pharmacology, molecular biology

Contact: Roger Adan

Food reward and the role of dopamine in feeding

Aim: to delineate whether palatable food is addictive and determine neural circuits related to this
Experimental work: behavioral analysis, viral vector technology, neuroanatomy

Contact: Roger Adan

Biochemical and cell biological properties of Contactin-6

Aim: determine mechanisms of Cntn6 involvement in brain development.

Experimental work: neuronal culturing, cell culturing, immunocytochemistry, DNA cloning, PCR, microscopy, work with knock-out mice.

Contact: Peter Burbach, Amila Zuko

Role of Contactin-5 in the thalamocortical system

Aim: determine the effect of loss-of-function of Cntn5 on the development of the thalamocortical system

Experimental work: immunocytochemistry, confocal microscopy, cell transfection, neuranatomy, brain development, work with knock-out mice, neuronal culturing.

Contact: Peter Burbach, Kristel Kleijer

Consequence of selective loss of Pten in neuronal systems.

Aim: determine the effect of loss-of-function of Pten on the development of the thalamocortical and dopaminergic systems

Experimental work: creating conditional mutant mice, immunocytochemistry, neuranatomy, brain development, work with knock-out mice, neuronal culturing

Contact: Peter Burbach

Neural circuit plasticity in reward circuits

Aim: Determine synaptic plasticity in reward circuits as a consequence of salient events
Experimental work: patch clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics

Contact: f.j.meye-2@umcutrecht.nl

Neural circuit functionality during reward seeking behavior

Aim: Determine activity of neuronal populations within neural circuits during reward seeking behavior Experimental work: fiber photometry, chemogenetics
Contact: f.j.meye-2@umcutrecht.nl

Functional mapping of neural circuit connectivity

Aim: Unravel the identity of specific pathways in the brain involved in the encoding of rewarding and aversive information
Experimental work: patch clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics, neural tracing tools, microscopy

Contact: f.j.meye-2@umcutrecht.nl

Epigenetic regulation of neural stem cell development

Aim: We aim to investigate how the epigenetic changes in neural stem cells affect their cell fate choices
Experimental work: mouse development, immunohistochemistry, single molecule FISH, cell culture, CRISPR/Cas9 and bioinformatics

Contact: Onur Basak

Identifying the quiescent and proliferating glioma stem cells

Aim: Characterisation of the proliferating and quiescent glioma stem cells.
Experimental work: tumor sampling, flow cytometry, qPCR, immunohistochemistry, single molecule FISH, single cell sequencing and bioinformatics

Contact: Onur Basak