Tatjana Tchumatchenko, Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, has received this prestigious grant for her MolDynForSyn project. She is one of the twelve 2020 laureates currently working at the Max Planck Society.
Long-term plasticity, a mechanism underlying learning and memory, requires new proteins, the “building blocks of life”. Due to the complex morphology of neurons this is a particularly challenging task. Neurons need to maintain the right protein amount across distances of hundreds of micrometers to quickly redistribute proteins in response to any changes in synaptic demand.
“It is still a puzzle how quickly the available pool of proteins can be redistributed via diffusion or active trafficking and how the local protein number is modified by increased translation of local mRNAs”, explains Tchumatchenko. “Without a data-driven computational framework it is difficult to predict how far the effects of long-term plasticity at one synapse extend and what it means for circuit functions such memory storage”, Tchumatchenko says.
As part of her project entitled: “How dendritic mRNA and protein distributions shape synaptic plasticity”, Tchumatchenko will connect the molecular level to the circuit function and develop a theory describing the dendritic mRNA and protein distributions. She will use this to study the emergent synaptic plasticity dynamics and its circuit consequences. “This project will address questions that are at the core of neural circuit function and will improve our understanding of long-term memory mechanisms and numerous neurological diseases that are associated with neuronal trafficking pathologies or protein synthesis dysfunction”, says Tchumatchenko.
About the ERC
The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees
to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialization. (Source: ERC)
We congratulate Tchumatchenko on this tremendous effort!