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Translational Neuroscience

The research mission of the Department of Translational Neuroscience is to discover and delineate mechanisms and processes which are fundamental to the development of neural systems and to the control of behavior as well as to translate these to pathogenesis and disease models. We use cutting edge technology, disease models as well as computational tools to achieve these goals.

Our teaching mission is to raise the next generation scientists and clinicians with state-of-the-art knowledge, technical expertise and vision in the field of neuroscience. As a part of this effort, we teach in several Bachelor courses, coordinate the Neuroscience and Cognition master program of the Utrecht University and offer doctoral and postdoctoral training.


April 9, 2024

The Shapeshifters Symposium; Plasticity – Here, There, and Everywhere

Join and contribute to the The Shapeshifters Symposium; Plasticity – Here, There, and Everywhere !

Plasticity, the ability to be molded in various forms while maintaining a core identity, is a term that is increasingly used within various fields of science, e.g. neuroscience, plant- and cell biology, and within the humanities. However, the meaning and use of plasticity varies between these fields. How are these different usages – from shapeshifting to adaptability, related between disciplines, and how can plasticity be developed into a threshold concept within fields where it is currently not in use?

The Shapeshifters Symposium is a transdisciplinary two-day event that explores the concept of plasticity across academic domains and beyond. We, a group of interdisciplinary scholars, invite researchers, societal stakeholders and artists to come together and question what it means to be a shape within a shapeshifting society, a form within a form – adapting, evolving and mutating, along with its environment. And you are warmly invited to join us!

The Shapeshifters Symposium

This event is organised by the Plasticity team, a group of interdisciplinary researchers working on the concept of plasticity, sponsored by the Dutch Centre for Unusual Collaborations. Two panel facilitators will frame the topic of the panel with a statement from the perspective of their background. After that, the conversation will be opened to all people to present ‘fishbowl-style’ – meaning everybody is invited to join (and leave) the available seats on stage and add to the discussion with questions and thoughts.

“We hope to further expand the concept of plasticity across disciplines – and we need your help!” The Plasticity Team

Day One of the symposium, May 30th, consists of four panels that are transdisciplinary in nature:

09:00 Registration & Coffee

09:30 – 11:00 Panel I – Plasticity, Complexity, and Circular Causality 
Moderator: Yaron Caspi
Panel facilitators: Prof. dr. Ray Noble & Prof. dr. Peter Sloot

11:30 – 13:00 Panel II – Plasticity from within and from without 
Moderators: Dr. Esmee Geerken & Dr. Yaron Caspi
Panel facilitators: Dr. Danqing Lui & Prof. dr. Frank Seebacher

14:00 – 15:30 Panel III – Time & Mind
Moderators: Tamalone van den Eijnden & Dr. Onur Basak
Panel facilitators: Dr. Kjetel Horn Hogstad & Dr. Joost de Jong

16:00 – 17:30 Panel IV – Meaning making across epistemic cultures
Moderators: Dr. Jeff Diamanti & Dr. Abby Waysdorf
Panel facilitators: Alice Iacobone & Prof. Dr. Amanda Boetzkes

Panel descriptions and the programme can be found on our event page.  Our PIs Onur Basak, PhD (leading the consortium) and prof. Elly Hol, PhD are members of this team. The translational Neuroscience department is a hub for brain plasticity research.



November 17, 2023 / News, Public outreach

The World Premature Day

On the 17th of November, it is the World Premature Day that aims to increase awareness and understanding for the impact that a premature birth has on the baby and the newborn’s loved ones. In the Netherlands, there are many organisations that help premature babies and parents through their difficult start, including Care4Neo.

“The time has come, you are pregnant. A whole new chapter of your life is about to begin and it is an unknown territory. You make sure to take your vitamins, get your check-ups and hear your babies heartbeat time and time again. You get excited to meet your baby and with time you feel more and more at ease. And then the time comes, labor. However, for 1 in 10 births, this comes earlier than 37 weeks. Completely unexpected, you are parents to a premature baby and nothing can really prepare you for this. The earlier the baby comes, the more complications are expected. It is a period where you feel all the emotions, happiness, sadness and mainly a lot of insecurity.“ a mother

Developmental research, as done in our department and at the UMC Utrecht Brain Center, also contributes to the care and understanding of what one can expect when having a premature baby. It is a very fragile time when babies are born and information is so important. Information for parents and health care professionals, but also everybody else. So, take a moment to be informed about the impact and work being done to help the care of premature babies. Feel free to share a post, wear something purple (as purple is the color for premature babies) or just take a moment to show your support.

October 31, 2023 / Appointment, News

Elly Hol appointed vice dean of research

Elly Hol will start as vice dean of research at UMC Utrecht on January 1, 2024! Elly has been working at the UMC Utrecht for 10 years. She is professor of glial biology of brain diseases and is a member of the Academia Europaea and the KNAW. Our new vice dean is also the education manager of the Brain division and has led the Translational Neuroscience department since 2020. Elly strongly believes in the integration of research with education and care. “Exchange between these disciplines offers opportunities for talent development and has a major and positive impact on both students and patients,” explains the new vice dean. “In my opinion, these are the essential preconditions for attracting and retaining (inter)national research talent. And that is this time of great change is more important than ever.”. She also emphasises the importance of a stimulating research environment within the UMC Utrecht, in which sufficient attention and space are provided for the full spectrum of research, from fundamental to clinical. In her view, excellent facilities and support are crucial.
“We are very happy with the arrival of Elly. First of all, because Elly is a great and very experienced researcher, with a warm heart for education. She has proven to be a to be a good connecting team player. Secondly, because for the first time we now have a vice dean for research, while the other faculties in Utrecht have had this for much longer. This is important in light of the strong increase in research collaborations between the faculties, on campus, within the alliance with Eindhoven and Wageningen and internationally. We wish her every success in this new role.” Arno Hoes, dean and vice-chairman of the Board of Directors
Our new vice dean will continue her work as a research group leader. Her lab focuses on glia biology in brain diseases and is a hub for several in-house, national and international collaborations. In addition, she will continue as the co-head of our Translational Neuroscience department. This exciting news make us very proud; congratulations Elly! 🎊🎊🎊
See this post for additional information.
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We welcome open applications from PhD candidates and postdocs.

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