Bioluminescent Optogenetics Lab

Neuronal activity in generating and alleviating neurological and psychiatric conditions

Flatlining and epileptic seizures are at the opposite ends of the spectrum of neuronal activity. From the developing to the aging organism, activities in-between those extremes determine the function and dysfunction of the brain. We are studying selected examples of neuronal activity driving developing circuits towards psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, autism), alleviating declining functions in neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson, Huntington), and regenerating injured circuits (spinal cord injury). Through exploring the effects of experimentally manipulated neuronal activity at the molecular, cellular, and behavioral levels we hope to contribute to elucidating the pathophysiological mechanisms of brain disorders as well as to developing potential therapies.

A central component of our activities is the development of the technologies that allow us to carry out the above described studies. Specifically, we are further advancing the concept of using biological light, i.e. a light-generating protein (luciferase), to activate light-sensing photoreceptors (ion moving opsins and non-ion moving photoswitches).

For more information about the advancement of novel and powerful bioluminescent tools, visit The Bioluminescence Hub.

We are using a wide range of approaches and technologies for these studies, including molecular engineering, generation of viral vectors, cell culture work, multi electrode recordings in vitro and in vivo, and behavioral analysis.

Interested in joining?

Undergraduate and graduate students, post-baccalaureate and post-doctoral fellows: please contact Ute Hochgeschwender.