06/05/2022 // (04/22)
New Berlin research projects on autism, liver diseases, neuronal learning processes, and quantum technology approved
In her role as an Einstein Visiting Fellow, neuroscientist Jackie Schiller will strengthen autism research at Charité - Universitätsmedizin until 2025. Computer scientist Matteo Rosati will also spend the next four years optimizing quantum encryption as an Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellow at the Berlin Institute of Technology. In addition, two new Einstein research projects will be included in the current year's funding: one will focus on exploring genetic technologies used to diagnose liver diseases, and the other seeks to understand the neuronal activities that underpin learning processes. Both projects are being carried out in partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The new grants and extensions amount to around 2.3 million euros in funding and will be awarded until 2025.
Einstein Visiting Fellows
Since the beginning of the year, neuroscientist, and current Einstein Visiting Fellow Jackie Schiller (Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa), has been conducting research on autism spectrum disorders together with the team led by Professor Sarah Shoichet and Professor Dietmar Schmitz (both from Charité - Universitätsmedizin). The researchers are investigating the genetic cause of variations in the Caspr2 protein to help understand their effects on cellular and molecular levels. By comparing altered brain waves, they hope to determine how neuropsychiatric disorders that are genetic in origin differ from those triggered by antibody responses. An expert in cellular neuroscience, Jackie Schiller will be based at the Charité's Neuroscience Research Center and form a joint research group with researchers from Haifa. The long-term goal of the teams in Haifa and Berlin is to advance research into the causes of other neuronal diseases as well.
Following the approval of the renewal requests, the second funding phase has started for the two Visiting Fellows John Henry Maddocks and Michel Chaouli. Mathematician John Henry Maddocks is conducting research on the multiscale modeling of DNA and Germanist Michel Chaouli is continuing his work on the Philological Laboratory project. They will both continue their work at Freie Universität Berlin.
Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellow
Italian-born quantum computer scientist Matteo Rosati, previously a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow in Barcelona, is now continuing his postdoctoral project at Technische Universität Berlin, where he will work with the Emmy Noether Research Group "Quantum Communication and Cryptography" headed by Anna Pappa. The team is focusing on optimizing quantum cryptography, which is used to encrypt information in communications technology. Unlike more theoretically oriented research on future quantum technologies, this project aims to develop applications that use existing technology to securely exchange encryption keys between different communication devices. Machine learning will be used to design quantum network methods that take into account the various technological limitations to produce the most secure encryption protocols possible.
Einstein Research Projects
The research project "cfChlP-seq as a biomarker for liver disease" is led by Frank Tacke, head of the Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology at Charité - Universitätsmedizin. His team comprises researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and collaborates with Nir Friedman and Eithan Galun from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Together, they are conducting research into the treatment and better diagnosis of liver diseases, with a focus on developing non-invasive alternatives to liver biopsy. The research group from Jerusalem is bringing its expertise in genome research to the table and will be examining cell-free nucleosomes - the smallest structural units of a chromosome. Through this foundational research, the group aims to find ways to diagnose liver diseases without a biopsy and instead use genome sequencing from blood to identify and treat a variety of liver diseases. The results of the research will also be used to develop algorithms to support 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 Berlin. His team 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. Modern imaging techniques will be used to reveal the brain's subcellular circuit mechanisms during learning. Through combining the two groups' key research areas, it is anticipated that new findings will shed light on how activity in the brain changes and modifies behavior during learning. Professor Gilad's team uses whole-brain and subcortical imaging, and Professor Larkum's team examines cortical cellular and subcellular activity during learning.
The Einstein Foundation Berlin is an independent, not-for-profit, science-led organization established as a foundation under civil law. For over ten years, it has promoted international cutting-edge science and research across disciplines and institutions in and for Berlin. It has funded 200 researchers - including three Nobel laureates - over 70 projects, and seven Einstein Centers.
For science. For Berlin.