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Advanced Techniques for Synapse Biology

Cajal school 2017 /Bordeaux

Du 3 juillet 2017 au 22 juillet 2017



3-23 July 2017, Bordeaux Neurocampus, France
Applications are open / Apply here


Synapses are the major sites of information processing in the brain. The complexity of the synapse has been described in the past few years in great molecular details and major achievements have been gained in the understanding of networks of proteins occurring at the pre-synaptic cytomatrix and the postsynaptic compartment of both excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Synaptic dysfunction is a central aspect of many brain disorders (“synaptopathies”) and synapses are and potentially will be the main target of drugs for brain diseases. Synapses integrate complex signals through temporal and spatial codes and undergo rapid structural and functional changes (synaptic plasticity) that underlie the formation of engrams in the brain. Maladaptation of such processes can lead to aberrant perception, cognitive dysfunction or neurodegeneration. 

Course director : Monica Di Luca (University of Milano, Italy) Co-Directors / Nathalie Sans (University of Bordeaux, France) and Fabrizio Gardoni (University of Milan, Italy)

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The Instructors Team

Julien P. Dupuis, PhD / Development and Adaptation of Neuronal Circuits laboratory, Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience, Bordeaux (France)

José A. Esteban Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC/UAM), Madrid, Spain (www.cbm.uam.es/estebanlab) Anna Fejtova, PhD Head of Molecular Psychiatry Group Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Matthew Holt, PhD. Laboratory of Glia Biology, VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain and Disease Research, Leuven, Belgium.

Mathieu Letellier, PhD CNRS researcher, Cell Adhesion Molecules in Synapse Assembly lab, IINS, University of Bordeaux

Alexandros Kanellopoulos, MD, PhD Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory Department of Fundamental Neurosciences University of Lausanne, Switzerland,
email: alexandros.kanellopoulos@unil.ch

Anna Karpova, PhD Senior Research Associate, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology (LIN), RG Neuroplasticity, Magdeburg.

Manuel Mameli, PhD Department of Fundamental Neurosciences (DNF), University of Lausanne (https://mamelilab.wordpress.com).

Elena Marcello, PhD Laboratory of Pharmacology of Neurodegeneration, Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy

Marina Mikhaylova, PhD Research Group ‘Neuronal Protein Transport’, Center for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH), University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg. Germany

Valentin Nägerl, PhD Synaptic Plasticity and Superresolution Microscopy lab, IINS, University of Bordeaux

Julie Perroy, PhD Pathophysiology of Synaptic Transmission Lab, Institute of Functional Genomics in Montpellier, France.

Ramón Reig, PhD Sensory-motor Processing Lab, Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante.

Jean-Baptiste Sibarita, PhD, 
Group leader team Quantitative Imaging of the Cell Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience, Bordeaux, France

Tara Spires-Jones, PhD The University of Edinburgh

Jennifer Stanic, PhD Planar Cell Polarity Lab, Neurocentre Magendie Inserm U1215, Bordeaux,

France Raffaella Tonini, PhD Neuromodulation of Cortical and Subcortical Circuits Lab, Neuroscience and Brain Technologies Department (NBT), Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa, Italy

Chiara Verpelli, PhD Physiological and pathological mechanisms of synaptic development lab, CNR Neuroscience Institute, Milan, Italy


The Invited Speakers

Daniel Choquet, PhD Daniel Choquet obtained an engineering degree from Ecole Centrale (1984). PhD at the Pasteur Institute, studying ion channels in lymphocytes. Research officer CNRS 1988. Post-doc Duke University with MP Sheetz. Group leader in Bordeaux 1996. Since 2011, director of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Neuroscience and the Bordeaux Imaging Center. He combines neuroscience, physics and chemistry to unravel the dynamics of multimolecular complexes and their role in synaptic transmission.


Graham L. Collingridge, FRS, FMedSci, FSB, FBPhS Graham Collingridge is the Ernest B. and Leonard B. Smith Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. He is also a Senior Investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Professor Collingridge also holds an appointment at the University of Bristol (since 1994) as a Full Professor of Neuroscience in Anatomy in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology.


Eckart Gundelfinger, PhD Eckart Gundelfinger (PhD) is the scientific director of the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology (LIN) – Center for Learning and Memory – and Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at the Otto von Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany. He studied Biology at the University of Stuttgart, performed research for his doctoral thesis at the May Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen and spent two years as postdoctoral EMBO fellow at the EMBL in Heidelberg. In 1984, he started his research on molecular mechanisms of brain synapses, first as a staff scientist at the Center for Molecular Biology of the University of Heidelberg (with Heinrich Betz) and from 1988 in his own group at the Center for Molecular Neurobiology in Hamburg. Since 1992 he heads the Dept. of Neurochemistry and Molecular Biology at the LIN, and since 2010 he is LIN’s Scientific Director. Current research is focused on molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory.


Jeremy Henley, PhD Jeremy Henley did his PhD at King’s College London and a post-doc at Cornell University in the USA working on neuronal nicotinic receptors and kainate receptors. He returned to the UK to work at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge as a research fellow working on glutamate receptors. He was appointed to a faculty position at the University of Birmingham and spent a sabbatical at Kyoto University, Japan. He then moved to Bristol University. Jeremy served as the Head of Anatomy Department there and Deputy Director of the MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity. He has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has been awarded a Royal Society-Wolfson Merit Award and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.



Michael R. Kreutz, PhD Michael R. Kreutz has studied psychology, philosophy and linguistics at the University of Münster, Germany and then performed his PhD studies in Behavioral Neurosciences at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany. Subsequently he received a stipend from the Centers for Brain Research and Metabolism to become a research fellow at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, USA. From 1990 to 1993 he was staff scientist in the Department of Molecular Neuroendocrinology at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, Germany. In 1993 he moved to Magdeburg and he is currently head of the Neuroplasticity research group (NPlast) at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology. Since October 2015 he has a second appointment at the Center for Molecular Neurobiology (ZMNH) in Hamburg where he is heading the Leibniz Group 'Dendritic Organelles and Synaptic Function'. The team in Hamburg aims to learn more about the contribution of dendritic microsecretory systems to synaptic processes and plasticity. Research in NPlast is concerned with molecular mechanisms of cellular plasticity. Of particular interest are molecular dynamics of the postsynaptic density, signaling from synapse to nucleus and how synaptic control of nuclear gene expression feeds back to plastic properties of neurons. In this context they address how neuronal calcium signals are decoded by calcium-sensor proteins.

 Isabel Pérez-Otaño, PhD
“Juvenile NMDA receptors: gate-keepers of synapse development and cognition” University of Navarra Medical School, Spain

Carlo Sala, MD, PhD CNR researcher, CNR Neuroscience Institute, Milano My laboratory is interested to know how neuronal activity causes long lasting changes in synaptic structure and function that may contribute to learning and memory. We are interested in understanding the function of various proteins that regulate neuronal synapse formation and plasticity, and their association with ASDs and intellectual disability and other neurodevelopmental diseases. We are now extensively studying how synapse activity regulates protein translation and excitation/inhibition balance in normal and pathological conditions. We are addressing these questions using molecular biology, biochemistry, proteomic and genetic approaches

 Nathalie Sans, PhD Natalie Sans leads with M. Montcouquiol the “Planar Polarity and Plasticity’ team at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux. Since 2015, she is also deputy director of the INSERM U1215. Nathalie Sans obtained her PhD at the University of Montpellier in 1996, studying vestibular compensation. She then worked with Robert J. Wenthold as a post-doc at NIH in Bethesda (USA) for 8 years where she identified several novel components involved in intracellular trafficking of AMPA and NMDA receptors and studies the influence of their traffic on the structure and function of glutamatergic synapses. She has been pioneer in showing that PDZ-protein/receptor interactions occur early in the secretory pathway, and that PDZ-based macromolecular complexes regulate receptor delivery to the synapse. She is currently an INSERM Research Director at the Neurocentre Magendie at the University of Bordeaux, France. She continues to study intracellular traffic in relation with spine structure and function and develop new projects relying on multidisciplinary approaches to identify and define the specific function of the planar cell polarity signaling in neuronal plasticity and the impact of the disruption of this signaling in pathological context.