FWO FELLOWSHIPS FOR NERF POSTDOCS

30 June 2020

Two NERF postdocs were awarded a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship by FWO Vlaanderen: Norma Kuhn from the Farrow lab and Polona Jager, who is a collaborative postdoc in the labs of Vincent Bonin (NERF) and Pierre Vanderhaeghen (VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research).

Fwo Nerf Postdoc 2020

Norma Kühn has been working in the Farrow lab since 2017. She obtained a senior postdoctoral fellowship to continue her research on visual information processing.

Kühn: "Our brains process a billion bits of visual information coming in from our retinas every second, extracting relevant information from our environment. We are studying the processing of the retinal signals in wide-field neurons of the superior colliculus. It is often assumed that neurons simply sum the incoming signals along their dendrites. However, we found that processing is far more complex. I am very excited to continue this work in the Farrow lab over the next three years and identify where and how the integration happens within the dendrites of these neurons."

Polona Jager, who has a background in developmental neurobiology, joined NERF last year and obtained a junior postdoctoral fellowship to study the functional development of neuronal circuits, in a collaboration between the labs of Pierre Vanderhaeghen at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research, and Vincent Bonin at NERF.

"Neural circuits in development follow a specified pattern over time, progressing through different irreversible stages, including a postnatal period of high plasticity, during which experience shapes their structure and function. This window then closes, but is significantly longer in humans compared to other species," explains Jager, who was also selected for a prestigious EMBO fellowship.

"In my research, I will explore a strategy to re-activate juvenile plasticity in an adult brain, and uncover the mechanisms controlling these transitions, using developing human neurons transplanted in mouse visual cortical circuits as a model. A better understanding of circuit plasticity would have important implications for the fields of brain regeneration and repair," she adds.

Congratulations to both awardees!

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