Synaptic Plasticity and Super-Resolution Microscopy
Team Leader : Valentin Nägerl
Bienvenue! Welcome! Willkommen! Yōkoso! Powitanie! Benvenuti!
I am a full Professor of Neuroscience and Bioimaging and lead the research group 'Synaptic Plasticity and Super-Resolution Microcopy' at the Interdisciplinary Institute for NeuroScience. I also help run the Graduate School for Light Science and Technologies (EUR Light S&T) at the University of Bordeaux.
After undergrad studies in physics and medicine at the University of Göttingen, I got my PhD in neuroscience from UCLA with Istvan Mody and did a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology with Tobias Bonhoeffer, spending research visits at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry with the Nobel laureate-to-be Stefan Hell. In 2009, I obtained the habilitation for neuroscience from the Technical University of Munich with Arthur Konnerth, before setting up my own laboratory in Bordeaux. In 2017, I became a senior member of the 'Institut Universitaire de France' (IUF), and our work has been recognized by an 'Equipe FRM' award (2016) and a Research Prize from the French Academy of Sciences (2018). In addition, I have received two highly competitive HFSP program awards (in 2010 and 2020).
My team is working at the interface of optical method development and neuroscience research, animated by the siren call of powerful new technology, academic freedom and the joy of tackling challenging projects together with amazing collaborators here in Bordeaux and across the globe. The team is relatively small, but we have a good fighting spirit and excellent working conditions at Bordeaux Neurocampus. Driven by curiosity and instinct, we seek to decipher the enigmatic wonders of the brain and to help get the next generation of neuroscientists excited and ready for this mission.
Over the next few years, our research will be funded by the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) and European Research Council (ERC), giving me a fantastic chance to realize some of my wilder scientific dreams.
The biology of synapses is an extremely productive and interdisciplinary scientific endeavor, harboring central questions of cell biology and neuroscience. Synapses are physical sites of intercellular contact that transmit and transform information in a very rapid and flexible way, playing a pivotal role for learning and memory formation as well as neurological diseases of the mammalian brain. Since synapses are tiny and densely packed in light-scattering brain tissue, understanding their dynamic behavior in mechanistic terms under physiological conditions is a serious experimental challenge.
Fortunately, recent technological innovations, particularly in labeling and live-cell imaging techniques, are helping to break new ground. The advent of fluorescence microscopy beyond the diffraction limit has opened up huge experimental opportunities to directly image and resolve key physiological signaling events inside single synapses in intact brain tissue, a possibility which was considered a pipe dream until recently. My group is invested in harnessing these exciting technological developments to study synapses in their natural habitat and under realistic conditions, aiming to better understand higher brain function and disorders in terms of the underlying synaptic mechanisms.
To this end, we are developing and applying powerful super-resolution microscopy approaches (STED microscopy), giving us a much more complete and refined view of the dynamic behavior and plasticity of neuronal synapses and their interactions with glia cells inside living brain slices and in the intact mouse brain in vivo. Recently, we invented super-resolution shadow imaging (SUSHI), a new technique to visualize the extracellular space of the brain (ECS), which is an important, however understudied, brain compartment for neural signaling and brain homeostasis. These core approaches are complemented by a combination of 2-photon imaging & photoactivation, patch-clamp electrophysiology and mathematical modeling aided by tools from molecular genetics and computational image analysis.
Contribution of IP3 receptors and endoplasmic reticulum to calcium signalling in astrocytesMORE
Role of astrocyte aquaporin-4 in brain structure remodeling after traumatic brain injury: a combined MRI and STED microscopy studyMORE
Multi-scale investigation of synaptic dysfunction after strokeMORE
Nanoscale neuro-anatomical determinants of synaptic strength, plasticity and integrationMORE
Presynaptic plasticity in hippocampal circuitsMORE
Structure and functions of the brain extracellular spaceMORE
The extracellular space of the brain: a multi-modal analysis from nano-structure to in vivo functionMORE
Award of ERC Synergy Grant
Together with my Bordeaux colleagues (E. Bezard, L. Cognet and L. Groc), I am a proud recipient of an ERC Synergy grant from the EU, which supports high-risk/high gain frontier research in Europe. This is a tremendous recognition of our work, which will give us resources and wings to conduct some cool and ground-breaking research in the years to come! I am extremely grateful to all the members of my team and collaborators who have contributed to this success over the years and made it possible.
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