Neurobiology

Visualization of spinal interneurons with direct connections to motor neurons.

One of the major challenges in biology is to understand how the nervous system forms, enabling it to appropriately respond to a broad spectrum of stimuli and to have control over complex functions, such as behavior and emotions. The nervous system must be capable of storing information, integrating it into the already existing memory and be able to retrieve it again.

The mechanisms employed are still poorly understood.The way in which neurons are generated and form meaningful functional circuits is not only of interest to developmental neurobiologists but also of great significance in regard to diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, injuries to the nervous system or disturbances in body weight regulation.

The various research groups belonging to Neurobiology are concerned with neurogenesis and cell specification, the use of stem cell-based models of neural function and dysfunction, the assembly and elimination of neurons and synapses, synaptic signaling and the function of neuronal circuits.

Currently, an area of focus in this field of research is neuromuscular disorders, obesity and autism spectrum disorders – all areas involving important translational aspects, which are being further investigated in cooperation with industry. From a scientific point of view, these activities are being supported and further promoted by the Neuroscience Network Basel (NNB), a network bringing together scientists from the Biozentrum and affiliated institutions as well as partners in industry.