New Berlin research projects on autism, liver diseases and neuronal learning processes as well as quantum technology approved
Neuroscientist Jackie Schiller will strengthen autism research at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin as an Einstein Visiting Fellow until 2025. In addition, computer scientist Matteo Rosati will work on optimizing quantum encryption as an Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellow for four years at the Technische Universität Berlin. Two new Einstein research projects will also be funded this year: one on genetic technologies for diagnosing liver diseases and the other on neuronal activity in learning processes. Both projects are being carried out in cooperation with scientists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The total volume of the new grants and extensions amounts to approximately 2.3 million euros until 2025.
Einstein Visiting Fellows
Since the beginning of the year, neuroscientist Jackie Schiller (Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa) has been conducting research on autism spectrum disorders as an Einstein Visiting Fellow together with the team led by Professor Sarah Shoichet and Professor Dietmar Schmitz (both Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin). The researchers are investigating the genetic causes of changes in the Caspr2 protein in order to understand how these affect the cellular and molecular levels. By comparing altered brain waves, they hope to identify how neuropsychiatric disorders that are genetic differ from those triggered by antibody responses. At the Neuroscience Research Center of the Charité, the expert in cellular neuroscience will establish a joint working group with researchers from Haifa. The long-term goal is to use the cooperation between Haifa and Berlin to advance research into the causes of other neuronal diseases.
Following the successful review of the extension applications of the mathematician John Henry Maddocks, who is conducting research on multiscale modeling of DNA at Freie Universität, and the Germanist Michel Chaouli, who is also pursuing the "Philological Laboratory" project at FU, the second funding phase has begun for the two Visiting Fellows.
Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellow
Italian-born quantum computer scientist Matteo Rosati, previously a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow in Barcelona, is moving to Technische Universität Berlin for his postdoctoral project. There, he will work with the Emmy Noether group "Quantum Communication and Cryptography" led by Anna Pappa. The team focuses on optimizing quantum cryptography, which is used to encrypt information in communication technology. Unlike more theoretically oriented research on future quantum technologies, this project focuses on developing applications that use existing technology to securely exchange keys between communication participants. Machine learning will be used to design quantum network methods that produce optimally secure encryption protocols despite technological limitations.
Einstein research project
The research project "cfChlP-seq as a biomarker for liver disease" is led by Frank Tacke, clinic director specializing in hepatology and gastroenterology at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. His team consists of researchers from Charité and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and cooperates with Nir Friedman and Eithan Galun from the Hebrew University Jerusalem. Together, they are conducting research on the treatment and improved diagnosis of liver diseases. The focus is on developing non-invasive alternatives to liver biopsy. The research group from Jerusalem is contributing its expertise in the genome examination of cell-free nucleosomes - the smallest packaging units of a chromosome. Through this basic research, Berlin hopes to find ways to make a diagnosis without a liver biopsy and instead use genome sequencing from blood to identify and treat a variety of liver diseases. The results of the work will also be used to develop algorithms for the early detection of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and to identify patients at risk. In addition, the data may help predict treatment responses in tumors that co-occur with liver cirrhosis.
Professor Matthew Larkum will lead the project "Learning related modulation of activity at the Mesoscale and Dendrite level" at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His group will collaborate with Professor Ariel Gilad's lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with the goal of better understanding the neural mechanisms that are altered during learning processes. Advanced imaging techniques will be used to uncover the brain's subcellular circuit mechanisms during learning. The combination of the two groups' research interests, using whole-brain and subcortical imaging techniques (Gilad) on the one hand, and examining cortical cellular and subcellular activity during learning (Larkum) on the other, promises to shed light on how activity in the brain changes and modifies behavior during learning.