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ERC Starting Grant for Tatjana Tchumatchenko

Tatjana Tchumatchenko has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant to investigate neural circuit function to gain new insights into neurological diseases like Huntington’s Disease. Tchumatchenko is Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and a committed member of the Bernstein Network’s steering committee.
ERC Starting Grant for Tatjana Tchumatchenko

Picture: MPI Brain Research

Proteins are the building blocks of life and long-term plasticity in neurons requires new proteins. 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 as well as 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 as 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, such as Huntington's disease, which are associated with neuronal trafficking pathologies or protein synthesis dysfunction”, says Tchumatchenko.

Only 13% of applications for ERC grants haven been successful in this round. Tchumatchenko’s project is one of 124 selected proposals in the life sciences, which was chosen out of a total of 923 applications. She has received this grant for her project on molecular dynamics for synapses (MolDynForSyn). The Bernstein Network warmly congratulates Tatjana Tchumatchenko on this success!

Text: Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt

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About the ERC

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organization 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.

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