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Public Communication of Research Funded by EMBO

All EMBO Fellows are requested to provide a scientific report or a list of scientific publications which have arisen from the work carried out during the Fellowship and to send it to the Fellowships office.

We would like to invite Fellows to submit also a lay report, in the form of a short text (300 words), explaining their project and its results in a non-scientific style, for a non-scientific audience. The aim is to make EMBO-funded science visible and understandable to the lay tax-payers contributing toward the grants, and to scientists who are non-expert in that particular research field. These reports will be made publicly available via EMBO fellowsNet.

To submit your lay report, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to EMBO fellowsNet with subject Lay Report attaching a Word file. This will enable us to insert it in the website with a link to your profile.



Genetic clues key to mental illness and its treatment

William Hennah


Major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are devastating disorders that place a huge burden on the individual sufferers, their families and society as a whole. It has long been recognised that such disorders are in some way inherited through our genes. Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) is currently the most compelling candidate gene for major mental illness.

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Solving a piece of the splicing puzzle

Marike Van Roon

In all living creatures, except for bacteria, the genetic material, called DNA, contains regions which do not code for any message (protein). After transcription of DNA into RNA called pre-messenger RNA (pre-mRNA), this RNA still contains these non-coding regions (introns). The introns have to be removed from the pre-mRNA and the coding regions (exons) have to be joined together in order to yield mature messenger RNA, which can then be translated into proteins. This process is called splicing and is performed by a huge complex called the spliceosome.

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Characterization of beta and gamma- cytoplasmic actins

Ingrid Zwaenepoel

The ability of cells to adopt a variety of shapes and to carry out coordinated and directed movements depends on the cytoskeleton, a complex network of filamentous proteins that extends throughout the cell. Three main protein systems constitute the cytoskeleton: actin filaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments.
Actin is encoded by a gene family producing six different isoforms in vertebrates. Four isoactins are synthesized in different muscle cells, whereas two isoforms are preponderant in non-muscle cells: beta and gamma- cytoplasmic actins. However, to date little is known about the pattern and function of these two isoforms We are interested in better understanding how expression of both isoforms is regulated at different steps (transcription: i.e., the conversion of DNA to RNA; translation: i.e., the conversion of RNA to protein) and whether each isoform displays a preferential localization and exerts specialized functions.

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Generation of genetically modified mice with a mutated TR-alpha1

Jens Mittag

Thyroid hormones (THs) regulate metabolism and low TH levels can cause weight gain. The effects of TH are mediated by two specific receptor proteins, TRα1 and TRβ, which are present in most tissues of the body. While a defective TRβ causes the human disorder RTH (Resistance to TH), a patient with a defective TRα1 has not been found yet. To facilitate their identification, genetically modified mice with a mutated TRα1 have been generated. They are lean and burn more fat that normal mice, because the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which relays information from the brain to the body especially under stress conditions, is overactive. The project aims to identify the molecular reason for the overactive SNS.

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Identification of new signalling molecules in Drosophila

Nadege Pelte

Signalling pathways play a crucial role in the development of multicellular organisms and in the homeostasis of adult tissues. Their activation, by specific molecules, in defined cells, induces a cascade of molecular events leading to cells growing and dividing, becoming more specialised or dying. Mutations in components of signalling pathways have been linked to developmental defects or diseases such as cancer.

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Discovering imprinted genes: catching the odd one out

Reiner Schulz

The traditional view has been that the DNA sequence of an individual's genome carries all heritable information. In mammals, the DNA and the proteins carrying the DNA undergo chemical, so called epigenetic modifications that do not affect the DNA sequence. It is now known that some epigenetic modifications are passed on to the next generation.

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A phylogenomic analysis on the origin of Metazoa

Inaki Ruiz-Trillo

My interest is to understand one of the most important evolutionary transitions in life's history: the emergence of multicellular organisms from their unicellular ancestors. Multicellularity has evolved several times independently within the tree of life, such in algae, plants, fungi and animals or metazoans. In this project, done at Andrew Roger's lab at Dalhousie University, we focused on multicellularity origins within animals or Metazoa.

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How the brain learns in real life situations

Albert Lee

How do the many millions of neurons -the tiny building blocks of the brain- work together to allow us to do things like remember what went on earlier in the day, and to recall it later in the evening, or even years afterwards? Each neuron receives signals from thousands of other neurons, then based on this input decides when to generate its own signals and transmit them to another set of thousands of neurons. To try to understand this electrical code of the neurons, we want to measure the signals received and sent by individual neurons.

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