Post-doc researcher Danai Riga investigates ways to raise our body’s defends against stress, in order to prevent the development of anxiety. In particular, she aims to understand how built-in anti-stress systems work, and how to harness their therapeutic potential to alleviate anxiety. She received an XS grant (50.000 euro), via the NWO’s Open Competition Domain Science, which supports the fast implementation of curiosity-driven, groundbreaking ideas. Her project, titled “Stamps of resilience: elucidating the molecular diversity of the brain’s anti-stress system”, will examine the unique molecular identity of neuronal cells that mediate stress-relief.
“I am honoured to have received the XS grant, which will help me realise an exciting set of experiments in collaboration with other researchers of the Brain Center. Together, we will provide a detailed molecular map of our brain’s anti-stress system. We hope this will form the basis for uncovering novel targets for the treatment of anxiety”
She will perform the described work at the Translational Neuroscience department together with Frank Meye and colleagues.
Teaching Pharmacology to (bio)medical students is a prominent role of the department of Translational Neuroscience. Through the years the method of teaching basic science subjects like Pharmacology has changed. As a result, we no longer teach pharmacology as an independent subject with a separate final examination. Instead, it is integrated with other subjects.
This integrated medical curriculum has advantages, such as better integration of clinical and preclinical subjects. It also has its disadvantages, such as the absence of separate examination on Pharmacology. Due to curricular integration, students could still graduate despite having sub-optimal knowledge of the subject.
Our faculty members Rahul Pandit, PhD and Mirjam A. F. M. Gerrits, PhD continuously improve the teaching quality within the department and UMCU. In the current paper, they aimed to investigate and address the drawbacks of the methods of examination within the integrated medical curriculum. To achieve this, they looked into one specific aspect of Pharmacology (Pharmacokinetics) and shown that the student knowledge is on this topic is sub-optimal. In addition, they suggest a few solutions to address this issue. Please visit here to view the article published as open access in Medical Science Educator.
The annual UMCU Brain Center Research was as lively as ever! Last Friday, fundamental and clinical researchers from several departments of the Utrecht Brain Center gathered to discuss developments of the last year and exciting plans for the future.
Science communication was the focus of this year. Presentations from Arun Sharma and Daylon James, who together organise the Stem Cell Podcast, highlighted the current state of science communication. Jan Willem Gorter discussed best practices in patient engagement. Talks on brain organoids, deep machine learning, chemogenetics and more was capped by the keynote speech by Jurgen Knoblich, one of the leading brain researchers in the world. 2-min PhD student Blitz presentations were breathtaking! Congrats to Mark Bakker, Nick Weaver and Marion Sommers-Spijkerman for the awards!
“A great day for science communication today at UMCU Brain Center Research Day 2021. Had the opportunity to jointly present with the wonderful Fenne Smits, & discuss how we approach stress management and prevention of anxiety from a fundamental & clinical perpective” Danai Riga , Translational Neuroscience Department
On 14th of October, Marieke G. Verhagen defended her PhD thesis titled ‘The multifunctional role of Semaphorin6A during brain development and disease. Moving forward with reverse signaling’, UMC Utrecht Brain Center Universiteit Utrecht.
“I am happy and grateful for this experience! In the past 5 years I studied early brain development and the role of axon guidance molecule Semaphorin6A. Without a doubt we have moved forward characterizing the complex functions of this molecule.”
She has recently started her new job as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Lynette Lim VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research.
“Many thanks to my promotor Jeroen Pasterkamp, co-promotor Geert Ramakers, committee members Joost Verhaagen, Freek Hoebeek, Erik Storkebaum, J. Peter H. Burbach, Manon Benders, and Roger Adan. Paranimfs Suzanne Lemstra, PhD and Anna Aster De Ruiter. “
Photography by Maarten de Kok.
Last Friday Tivoli-Vredenburg hosted the 5th edition of the Betweter festival, organized by Utrecht University, celebrating 385 years of science in Utrecht. Assistant professor Frank Meye was there, at Cloud Nine, a popular hall for concerts, explaining why we eat badly under stress. He discussed what drives our tendencies to eat fat and sugar after a long stressful day, and which processes in the brain are linked to this.
See the official website