Research Statement

[[Mission

The mission of the Department of Neuroscience is to visualize, dissect and manipulate central nervous system (CNS) using state of the art techniques to study biology of the nervous system in healthy ageing and diseases. The department aims for excellence in research, education and medical training.

In the context of the university theme Healthy Ageing, the interrelated fields of interest are neuroimaging of cognitive function, neurophysiology and neuroimmunology. CNS ageing and inflammatory neurodegeneration are central topics of interest. These processes are also studied in the context of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s.

The research in the department is supported by the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG), the University of Groningen, and a wide array of scientific and charity foundations, including the European Research Council (ERC), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Deltaplan Dementia, and the Dutch MS Research Foundation. Some projects are also performed in collaboration with biomedical and nutritional companies.

The department is organized into four sections: Anatomy, Medical Physiology, Cognitive Neuropsychology and Neuroimaging Centre (NIC, a general facility).]]

[[Approaches

Anatomy conducts functional neuroanatomy research by managing a state-of-the-art dissection room and optimizes teaching methods by developing digital applications to enhance  to enhance the teaching efficiency of anatomy classrooms and dissection rooms.

Medical Physiology addresses neurodegenerative diseases, brain ageing, and epigenetic regulation of neuroimmune processes by testing hypotheses in human tissues, animal systems and cell cultures.

Cognitive Neuropsychology and Neuroimaging Centre use amongst other techniques 3-Tesla functional magnetic resonance imaging (3T fMRI) to investigate cognitive processes, psychiatric disorders and gender-related differences in brain functions in healthy participants and in people with a disease.]]

[[Aims

The primary aim of the Department of Neuroscience is scientific output in terms of publications, grants and societal activities. Last year, the department produced 57 publications in the top 1–20 % journals of the science citation index categories neuroscience, psychiatry, and multidisciplinary sciences. The research projects that have yielded these publications have been largely financed by science foundations, charities and biomedical companies.]]

[[Training

The department provides state-of-the-art scientific and medical training on the interrelated topics of physiology, anatomy, neurophysiology, neuroimmunology, cognition and neuroimaging. Target audiences include medical dentistry students, life sciences and human movement sciences students, research masters and PhD students. On a regular basis, research projects for master students are provided.

The Section of Anatomy operates the human dissection rooms as a general facility. The department has several prize-winning teachers and is continuously improving its teaching methods; the department has recently developed an application for tablets and smartphones to improve anatomy education.

Overall, more than 2,500 students participate in training provided by the department. Members of the department are active in focused outreach programmes for patients, high school students and general public.]]

[[Collaborations

Members of the department closely work together with several clinical and research departments within the UMCG and operate in local, national and international networks, such as academic groups, life science and networks with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and larger companies.

To realize our aim, the Department of Neuroscience participates in the local and international ageing brain network and contributes to the Ageing Brain/U4 international PhD network and Horizon 2020/InnoLife activities. In addition, the department is a prominent member of the MS Centre North Netherlands and contributes to local activities. The department is also an active member of the Research Institutes BCN BRAIN and BCN, and actively supports public events organized by both institutes.]]

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