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The Brain and Mind Institute
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Laboratory of Synaptic Mechanisms (LSYM)
Bâtiment SV 2808, Station 19
CH-1015 - Lausanne

+41 21 693 5364
+41 21 693 1897

Job opportunities

Prof Ralf Schneggenburger
Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology
The Brain and Mind Institute Lausanne

Research Area

The Schneggenburger lab studies molecular, cellular and systems aspects of neuronal communication at synapses.

We investigate the molecular mechanisms of transmitter release and its control by Ca2+ ions at the synapse. Furthermore, we study how neuronal circuits and synaptic connections are specified during brain development, to optimally fulfill the signaling needs of specific sensory circuits. We recently showed that the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway is a major determinant of large synapse size in the auditory system.

We also investigate how use-dependent synaptic plasticity shapes the wiring, and strength of synapses in sensory circuits. For these studies, we use the auditory system as a convenient model, because it shows a high degree of synapse size specificity, which is important for the computations performed in this system, like sound source localization. Second, sound representations at higher levels of the auditory system are sculpted by sensory experience, especially during critical periods of brain development. Finally, we are beginning to link synaptic pathways in the forebrain limbic system to the motivated behavior of animals.

Taken together, we aim to gain insight into neuronal - and synaptic network function in the context of sensory processing and the development of specific neuronal circuits. On the long term, our research should provide insight into the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, many of which represent diseases of the synapse.

Please see also:


5 Selected Publications

Xiao L., Michalski N., Kronander E., Gjoni E., Genoud C., Knott G. and Schneggenburger R. (2013) BMP-signaling specifies the development of a large and fast CNS synapse. Nat Neurosci., 16: 856-864.

Michalski N., Babai N., Renier N., Perkel D., Chédotal A., Schneggenburger R. (2013) Robo3-dependent axon midline crossing conditions functional maturation of a large commissural synapse. Neuron. 78, 855-868.

Kochubey O., and Schneggenburger R. (2011) Synaptotagmin increases the dynamic range of synapses by driving Ca2+ - evoked release and by clamping a near-linear remaining Ca2+ sensor. Neuron., 69: 736-748.

Han Y., Kaeser P. S., Südhof T. C., and Schneggenburger R. (2011) RIM determines Ca2+ channel density and vesicle docking at the presynaptic active zone. Neuron., 69: 304-316.

Müller M., Goutman, J., Kochubey O., Schneggenburger R. (2010) Interaction between facilitation and depression at a large CNS synapse reveals mechanisms of short-term plasticity. J. Neurosci., 30: 2007-2016.


Fellowships, Awards and Honours

2011            First place, and offer W3/C4 Chair Position in Physiology, University of Freiburg, Germany     
2008            Vice-Chair, and Chair of the Gordon Research Conference "Synaptic Transmission" (and 2006)
2005            First Place, and offer W3/C4 Chair Position in Physiology, University of Erlangen
2001            Heisenberg fellow of the German Research Council (DFG) (Dec 2011-July 2005)
2001            Plenary lecturer, German Physiological Society meeting
1994            Post-Doc Fellowship of the European Union (until 1996)

Technical Expertise