Examples of interdisciplinary projects

Neuronal Coordination Research Focus Frankfurt (NeFF)

The Neuronal Coordination Research Focus Frankfurt (NeFF) pools the interdisciplinary expertises of five faculties of the Goethe-University Frankfurt, the Max-Planck-Institute for Brain Research, the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies and the newly founded Ernst-Strüngmann-Institute.

Neural coordination, i.e. the spatio-temporal interaction of the activity of neuronal ensembles is thought to constitute a pivotal mechanism of all higher brain functions. Disordered neural coordination, on the other hand, is associated with frequent neurological and psychiatric disorders. Neural coordination research is a highly attractive and future-oriented approach to improve diagnostics and treatments of frequent brain disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer disease or multiple sclerosis.

Parkinson's disease: pathophysiology of early extranigral and nigral manifestations

Participating ICNF members:

Prof. Jochen Roeper, Neurophysiology, NeuroScience Center
Prof. Georg Auburger, Experimetal Neurology, NeuroScience Center
Prof. Heiko Braak, Clinical Neuroanatomy
Prof. Thomas Deller, Clinical Neuroanatomy, NeuroScience Center
Prof. Rüdiger Hilker, Section for Neuromodulation & Brain Imaging Center, Clinic for Neurology
PD Donat Kögel, Experimental Neurosurgery, NeuroScience Center
Prof. Karl-Heinz Plate, Neuropathology, Edinger Institute

Parkinson's disease is the second most frequent neurodegenerative disease in humans – over 250,000 people are affected in Germany alone. The cause of the disease is still unknown, and all therapies are simply symptomatic without being able to slow down the progress of the disease, far less stop it. Based on the ground-breaking neuropathological findings by Prof. Braak at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, the early manifestations of Parkinson's disease in patients can now be analyzed for the first time, and understood using animal models combined with modern neurobiological methods. This new approach promises considerable progress not only in explaining the disease mechanism, but also for early diagnosis and therapy of Parkinson’s disease. Through close cooperation between the participating research groups, the initiative should form a core of excellence in neuroscience research at the new Neuroscience Center of the University, the Neurological Clinic and at the Brain Imaging Center (BIC).

Neuroprotection and neurodegeneration in the hippocampus

ICNF research groups from 3 disciplines at the University, the MPI for Brain Research and the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS).   

Neuroscience research groups at the ICNF successfully applied for funds from the Grant Program of the J. W. Goethe University to build up a coordinated program (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. T. Deller). These grants, which are advertised throughout the University, serve as startup funding to set up a grant-funded research collaboration.

The research group addressing the theme of "Neuroprotection and neurodegeneration in the hippocampus" focuses on fundamental questions about regeneration of the central nervous system following damage.

This theme is particularly important scientifically and medically, since until now damage to the central nervous system could only be inadequately healed, and usually led to chronic, disabling limitations for the patient. Therapeutic strategies following damage to the central nervous system thus try to both prevent the loss of nerve cells ("neuroprotectors"), and promote innate natural healing processes ("neuroregeneration"). These can then lead to functional regeneration in the patients.

The research group includes 18 scientists from 3 disciplines, at the University, the MPI for Brain Research and the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS). An international symposium on "Regeneration and Reorganization in the Central Nervous System Following a Stroke" is planned for May 6 and 7, 2009. Here, the Frankfurt research group will present their data and discuss ideas with scientific colleagues.

The Frankfurt Vision Initiative

Involved members of the ICNF:

Prof. Dr. Christoph von der Malsburg, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced
Studies Prof. Dr. Gaby Schneider, Dept. of Computer Science and
Mathematics Prof. Dr. Wolf Singer, Max-Planck Institute for Brain
Research Prof. Dr. Ruxandra Sireteanu, Max-Planck Institute for Brain
Research Prof. Dr. Jochen Triesch, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies

The Frankfurt Vision Initiative is centered on visual perception, one of the most important and most promising areas of computational neuroscience and neurotechnology. The central goal of the initiative is to understand the principles linking the neural and the cognitive level of brain and mind and to apply and exploit these principles for the development of new cognitive vision technology.

Specifically, the results of the project are expected to provide significant technological advances to the areas of sensor systems for robots, for surround sensors in driver assistance systems, vision-based security systems, traffic control and surveillance, and in many other areas where perception tasks in complex visual environments have to be solved.

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