On January 1, 2013, the German Research Foundation (DFG) will establish a new Collaborative Research Center (CRC) at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The research team of scientists from Mainz and Frankfurt, coordinated by Professor Dr. Robert Nitsch, Director of the Institute of Microscopic Anatomy and Neurobiology at the Mainz University Medical Center, has been awarded funding of approximately EUR 9.3 million for an initial period of four years.
The purpose of the CRC is to study the molecular and cellular interactions that enable the brain to maintain a balanced functional state in the form of network homeostasis. By gaining a more in-depth understanding of these mechanisms, the scientists involved also hope to provide new insights into disease processes in the brain, so that it becomes possible in the long term to develop new treatment options.The main aim of CRC 1080 "Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Neuronal Homeostasis" is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of network homeostasis in detail. If successful, it should provide the ideal requirements for the development of medications to treat cerebral diseases in humans. Specifically, Nitsch's team of researchers intends to study various classes of molecules, such as those relevant to the control of cell-to-cell interactions and signaling processes. According to Nitsch, insight in this area is the key to understanding the importance of homeostatic mechanisms in the body, in particular in relation to disorders of the human nervous system.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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