The brain is the most complex organ in any living system. The activity of neurons (the brain cells) underlies all behaviors, ranging from relatively simple tasks, such as walking or breathing to very complex cognitive functions, such as generation of theoretical and abstract concepts, appreciation of arts and literature as well as accomplishment of complex logical and memory tasks. Although a massive effort is underway to understand the mechanisms of brain function, Neuroscience is still an open frontier and the mysteries of the brain remain largely unexplored.
As beautiful as the work of a healthy brain is, even subtle malfunctioning can result in devastating illnesses. Brain diseases include neurological and psychiatric diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, ALS, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorders, autism, to mention a few. Pain, a common condition underlying most human diseases, and the most frequent cause why patients seek medical attention, also has a peripheral and central neurological basis.
Understanding how the brain works, and how it can dysfunction in diseases will depend on our ability to link the different hierarchical levels of the brain organization into one unified conceptual framework, from molecules to behavior to higher brain functions. EBRI’s vision is that the daunting tasks facing neuroscience can only be solved through a highly interdisciplinary and integrated effort, also involving the exploitation and development of new technologies from different fields.
The molecular and cellular mechanisms for brain processes, be it developmental or adult plasticity processes, underlie all higher brain function, and constitute a common platform that integrates the biochemical, genetic, electrical processes occurring in neurons and synapses, providing the basis for higher processes such as learning, memory, sensations and emotions and, most significantly, providing the basis for a rational understanding of the deep roots of brain pathologies.
To implement this vision, research at EBRI will focus particularly on the fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms subserving the functions of developing and adult neurons and synapse belonging to different brain circuits and areas, studied with a close integration of different cross-disciplinary approaches, ranging from molecular biology and biochemistry to cell biology and biophysics, electrophysiology, mouse genetics, neuropharmacology and large scale neurogenomics, bioinformatics, behavior, optical imaging. In light of this vision, the general scientific objective of EBRI will be to merge systems and computational neuroscience with the cellular and molecular.
EBRI aims to attract young talented investigators with different scientific backgrounds, with a strong and passionate drive to study the brain, particularly young investigators at their first independent positions after post doctoral work.
To implement these objectives via a multidisciplinary approach, collaborating scientists with distinct backgrounds will utilize and have access to a wide range of techniques and experimental approaches, for the purpose of: