ANA News - October 2016

Dear ANA-Members,

Welcome to the current ANA News. Please take a few minutes to read the important information provided below!



The Topics of the ANA News are

1. Local Chapter Graz
2. Election of the Extended Board of the ANA
3. Keynote Speakers of the ANA Meeting 2017
4. Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize 2017
5. Report of the CAJAL Training Course by ANA Grant Awardee L. Fenk
6. Blog about the FENS Forum 2016 by Axol Travel Grant Awardee M. Unger
7. Call for European History of Neuroscience Online Projects
8. Meeting Calendar


1. Local Chapter Graz

ANA has set up a scheme to join forces with the “Initiative Gehirnforschung Steiermark” (INGE-St). Our two young ANA members Barbara Scherz and Magdalena Temmel will carry the program. We intend organizing a series of seminars in Graz by mostly young scientists and envisage around 10-12 such events per year. The kickoff event, jointly sponsored by ANA and the INGE-St, will take place on November 24, 2016, at the Meerscheinschlössl (Mozartgasse 3, 8010 Graz) and will start at 17.00. Speakers will be Anja Ischebeck, Gernot Müller-Putz, Florian Reichmann, and Peter Jonas (keynote). Separate invitations will be mailed. If you have not heard about the Graz chapter and if you are interested to join, please contact Barbara (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Magdalena (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


2. Appointment of members to the ANA Extended Board

The ANA General Assembly has changed its bylaws when we met on July 4th, 2016 (in Copenhagen) by introducing the Extended Board as an additional organ of the society. Up to 8 Extended Board members may be appointed by the ANA Board. The term of these members ends with the term of the ANA Board. Extended Board members advise and support the ANA Board in leading the association.
We are pleased to announce that the ANA Board has now appointed four members to the ANA Extended Board.
We would like to thank

  • Rupert Lanzenberger (Medical University of Vienna)
  • Barbara Scherz (Karl-Franzens-University Graz)
  • Kristin Tessmar-Raible (Max F. Perutz Laboratories, Vienna)
  • Marco Treven (Medical University of Vienna)

for their willingness to act as Extended Board Members, advise the ANA Board, and support our activities.
The ANA Board is ready to accept proposals for new members for the Extended Board. Please contact our Secretary if you are willing to support our activities, or if you know ANA members who would be interested to do so.


3. Keynote Speakers of the ANA Meeting 2017

Save the date for the next ANA Meeting, taking place at the IST Austria (24 to 26 September 2017).
To date, all plenary speakers have confirmed their participation:

  • Ghislaine Dehaene (INSERM-CEA, Gif-sur-Yvette)
  • Fiona Doetsch (University of Basel)
  • Michael Häusser (UCL, London)
  • Gilles Laurent (MPI, Frankfurt)
  • Andreas Lüthi (Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel)
  • Claire Wyart (Hôpital Salpetriere, Paris)

Besides oral and poster sessions we plan 4 mini-symposia, a discussion on Open Access Publishing (with Paul Bolam, EiC of EJN), and a hands-on course on stem cells (at the IMBA). The 2017 Otto Loewi Price will be sponsored by the Hertie Foundation. Watch out for the first program of the meeting that will be published before the end of the year.


4. Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize 2017

The Hertie Foundation (Germany), in cooperation with the FENS, announces the opening of nominations for the Eric Kandel Young Neuroscientists Prize 2017.
Candidates must be nominated by the head of their university/research institute or by an internationally renowned neuroscientist. Self-nomination is not possible. For further information and documents needed please visit:
Deadline: 1 November 2016

5. Report of the CAJAL Hands-on Training Course

by Lorenz Fenk (Cambridge), Awardee of the ANA Grant for CAJAL Training Courses

I am delighted to report on my experiences at the CAJAL Course in Computational Neuroscience, that I was fortunate to attend last August with the generous support of the Austrian Neuroscience Association (in the form of an ANA Grant). My motivation to apply to this specific course was simple: a sincere interest in the topics covered and my wish to learn about concepts and techniques that I believe will be critical for the work I hope to pursue in the future. As an experimentalist who has recently finished his PhD – studying molecular and neuronal underpinnings of chemosensory behaviours in the nematode C. elegans – I found myself exposed to theoretical topics that I had comparatively little contact with in the past, ranging from cellular biophysics to neural network dynamics and advanced statistical methods to analyse large-scale neuronal recording data. The course was intensive and demanding (at least speaking for myself, a biologist who did not enjoy the mathematical education I would wish for), yet engaging and highly interesting throughout. Weekdays usually started with lectures given by distinguished faculty, followed by lunch and hands-on project work in the afternoons and evenings. Projects were assigned at the beginning of the course, based on preferences expressed by the students, and typically involved modelling of neurons, neuronal networks and behaviour, or advanced analyses of data sets provided by our faculty. Some students proposed their own projects using data they have collected in their home laboratories, which seemed like an excellent opportunity to attack a specific problem or set of problems with expert help. Project work was done in small teams of 2–3 people, supervised by fantastic tutors that were always ready to offer their help and patiently explain anything from basic programming questions to more elaborate mathematics and theoretical concepts. But it was not hard work only, and evenings (occasionally nights) were spent with a fantastic group of students, tutors, and also faculty, visiting some of Lisbon’s many bars and restaurants. These interactions, with people from often very different backgrounds, talking about science and anything beyond, was certainly one of the highlights of the course. No need to say that Lisbon is a truly stunning city, close to many beautiful beaches and the ocean they call Atlântico! Lorenz Fenk (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


6. Blog about the FENS Forum 2016

by Michael Unger (Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg), Awardee of the Axol Travel Grant for the FENS Forum 2016

An unexpected start to FENS 2016

Nearly 6000 neuroscientists were on their way to the amazing lecture hall A at the Bella Center in Copenhagen. They were hurrying so as not to be late for the opening ceremony of the 10th Forum for Neuroscience (FENS). For me, a PhD student in his first year, it was the first time I had been to Copenhagen and attended the FENS, one of Europe’s largest neuroscience congresses. Already the size of lecture hall A was really impressive! Three screens were projecting the events on stage, so that nobody would miss any of the action or data presented. The FENS 2016 started with an unexpected opening ceremony, at least for me. The actor, Peter Gantzler (known as Earl Ragnar in the TV series 'The Last Kingdom') welcomed neuroscientists from all over the world. He did a great job as comedian, breaking the ice and introducing himself to the scientific community. After a variety of neuroscience jokes, the musicians from 'Outlandish' entered the stage. For me sitting in the audience, starting a science congress with pop culture music was something totally unexpected and new! 

New advances in Alzheimer's disease research

Since I am currently a PhD student in my first year from Salzburg, Austria and working in the field of regenerative medicine, attending the FENS 2016 was the most exciting scientific experience for me so far. I was amazed by the diversity of scientists showing their posters with the data from their research. I am currently working in the field of Alzheimer´s disease (AD) and was impressed by how many posters on AD were displayed in the immense poster hall.
AD and other forms of dementia belong to the group of neurodegenerative diseases affecting the mammalian brain that result in a loss of cognitive functions. As life expectancy has dramatically increased over the last 50 years, neurodegenerative diseases and associated dementias are on the rise.
A lot of research done in the past described the structural and functional changes that are observed in already advanced stages of AD pathology but very little is known about early changes in the brain that manifest before the major characteristics start to form (e.g. amyloid-beta plaques). I was astonished to see so many posters describing early changes in cortical and hippocampal brain regions of transgenic AD mouse models. The variety of research in this field reflects the enormous complexity of alterations observed already before the onset of the disease. Data showing altered hippocampal structures, metabolism and interneuron activity suggest these changes in the cortex and the hippocampus of AD brains, already contribute to the disease even before amyloid-beta plaque formation.

Researching PSEN1 in Alzheimer's disease

I myself research and work with a well-documented transgenic AD mouse model, APP-PS1, investigating changes in new neuron production in the hippocampal neurogenic niche referred to as adult hippocampal neurogenesis. This neurogenic niche is very sensitive to environmental changes and as such, local neural stem and progenitor cells respond to extrinsic and intrinsic stimuli, changing not only progenitor cell proliferation but also differentiation. A lot of data already confirmed altered neurogenesis levels in the brains of AD animals with severe amyloid pathology however, changes at prodromal time points have so far been largely ignored. It was amazing to see that other scientists from the around world, show similar findings and their data fit well with mine. Even though they have different objectives and methods, we are all working on the same issue.
To summarize, the 10th FENS was a great opportunity for me to get in contact with many other PhD students and neuroscientists, discuss our data and once more to broaden my field of view. Thanks again to Axol Bioscience for sponsoring this travel grant, it was a great experience for me, one that I will long remember. 
Michael Unger (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


7. Call for European History of Neuroscience Online Projects

The History Committee provides small grants for outstanding projects that aim at ocumenting the history and development of neuroscience in Europe, by collecting autobiographies, ideos, pictures and other electronic materials about illustrious neuroscientists and their distinguished work.
The projects should be published online and will be added to the FENS History online platform. Apply here.

Applications Deadline: 17 October 2016

8. Meeting Calendar

1st HBP Student Conference: Transdisciplinary Research Linking Neuroscience, Brain Medicine and Computer Science
8 – 10 February 2017, Campus of the University of Vienna
Abstract Submission Deadline: 7 October 2016

The 1st HBP Student Conference provides an open forum for exchange of new ideas among young researchers working across various aspects of neuroscience, brain medicine and computer science relevant to the Human Brain Project. The scope of the conference offers a plethora of opportunities for extensive scientific discussions, both intra- and inter-disciplinary, among peers and faculty through a variety of discussion sessions, lectures and social events.

Call for Submissions
We invite original high quality submissions describing innovative research in all disciplines addressing the HBP research programme. Contributions emphasising theoretical and empirical foundations as well as novel approaches to specific problems with respect to the twelve subprojects of the HBP are welcome. Finally, we particularly encourage submissions with a potential to inspire the research community by introducing new and relevant problems, concepts and ideas, even if the work is at an early stage of development.

Participation in the 1st HBP Student Conference is open to advanced master students, PhD students and young researchers, regardless of whether they are affiliated with the HBP or not and regardless of whether they make a submission to the scientific programme or not. Registration is required.



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