Beat Gähwiler

The research of Beat Gähwiler focused on the characterization of the physiological, pharmacological and morphological properties of nervous tissue in in vitro preparations. During the 1980s, he established the organotypic slice culture technique, which he used extensively to study cholinergic, peptidergic and amino acid-mediated neurotransmission in tissue derived from the cerebellum, the hypothalamus and the hippocampus of rats and mice. Of particular significance was the development of the co-culture approach, in which nerve cells derived from different brain areas establish physiological connections in vitro with their normal target cells. He made major contributions to our understanding of the function and development of neural networks, the influence of trophic factors on the maintenance and growth of central neurons, the mechanisms involved in synaptic plasticity and the causes and consequences of epileptiform activity.

Beat Gähwiler is emeritus professor of neuroscience. Between 1987 and 2005 he was professor of neurophysiology and director/co-director of the Brain Research Institute. He spent sabbatical time at the Australian National University in Canberra, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Seville, and was appointed Newton-Abraham Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. Beat Gähwiler was president of the advisory board of the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and served on various other boards. In addition, he presided several scientific foundations, including the prestigious Roche Research Foundation in Basel. In his lab in Zurich, Beat Gähwiler worked with an impressive number of doctoral students and postdocs, many of whom have become leaders in their own areas of neuroscience.

Selected Publications

  • Gähwiler, B.H. (1976). Inhibitory action of noradrenaline and cyclic AMP in explants of rat cerebellum. Nature. 259(5543):483-484.
  • Gähwiler, B.H. (1981). Organotypic monolayer cultures of nervous tissue. J Neurosci Meth. 4(4):329-342.
  • Baertschi, A.J., Beny, J.L., Gähwiler, B.H. (1982). Hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus is a priviledged site for brain-pituitary interactions in long-term tissue culture. Nature. 295:145-147.
  • Muehlethaler, M., Dreifuss, J.J., Gähwiler, B.H. (1982). Vasopressin excites hippocampal neurones. Nature 296(5859):749-751.
  • Gähwiler, B.H. (1984). Development of the hippocampus in vitro: cell types, synapses and receptors. Neuroscience. 11(4):751-760.
  • Gähwiler, B.H., Brown, D.A. (1985). Functional innervation of cultured hippocampal neurones by cholinergic afferents from co-cultured septal explants. Nature. 313(6003):577-579.
  • Gähwiler, B.H., Brown, D.A. (1985). GABAB-receptor-activated K+ current in voltage-clamped CA3 pyramidal cells in hippocampal cultures. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 82(5):1558-1562.
  • Gähwiler, B.H. (1988). Organotypic cultures of neural tissue. Trends Neurosci. 11(11):484-489.
  • Thompson, S.M., Gähwiler, B.H. (1989). Activity-dependent disinhibition. I. Repetitive stimulation reduces IPSP driving force and conductance in the hippocampus in vitro. J Neurophysiol. 61(3):501-511.
  • Charpak, S., Gähwiler, B.H., Do, K.Q., Knöpfel, T. (1990). Potassium conductances in hippocampal neurons blocked by excitatory amino-acid transmitters. Nature 347(6295):765-767.
  • Scanziani, M., Capogna, M., Gähwiler, B.H., Thompson, S.M. (1992). Presynaptic inhibition of miniature excitatory synaptic currents by baclofen and adenosine in the hippocampus. Neuron 9(5):919-927.
  • Debanne, D., Gähwiler, B.H., Thompson, S.M. (1994). Asynchronous pre- and postsynaptic activity induces associative long-term depression in area CA1 of the rat hippocampus in vitro. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 91(3):1148-1152.
  • Mouginot, D., Bossu, J.L., Gähwiler, B.H. (1997). Low-threshold Ca2+ currents in dendritic recordings from Purkinje cells in rat cerebellar slice cultures. J Neurosci. 17(1):160-170.
  • McKinney, R.A., Debanne, D., Gähwiler, B.H., Thompson, S.M. (1997). Lesion-induced axonal sprouting and hyperexcitability in the hippocampus in vitro: implications for the genesis of posttraumatic epilepsy. Nat Med. 3(9):990-996.
  • Debanne, D., Guerineau, N.C., Gähwiler, B.H., Thompson, S.M. (1997). Action-potential propagation gated by an axonal IA-like K+ conductance in hippocampus. Nature. 389(6648):286-289.
  • Gähwiler, B.H., Capogna, M., Debanne, D., McKinney, R.A., Thompson, S.M. (1997). Organotypic slice cultures: a technique has come of age. Trends Neurosci. 20(10):471-477.
  • McKinney, R.A., Capogna, M., Dürr, R., Gähwiler, B.H., Thompson, S.M. (1999). Miniature synaptic events maintain dendritic spines via AMPA receptor activation. Nat Neurosci. Jan;2(1):44-9.
  • Ehrengruber, M.U., Lundstrom, K., Schweitzer, C., Heuss, C., Schlesinger, S., Gähwiler, B.H. (1999). Recombinant Semliki Forest virus and Sindbis virus efficiently infect neurons in hippocampal slice cultures. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96(12):7041-7046.
  • Lüthi, A., Schwyzer, L., Mateos, J.M., Gähwiler, B.H., McKinney, R.A. (2001). NMDA receptor activation limits the number of synaptic connections during hippocampal development. Nat Neurosci. 4(11):1102-7.
  • Savic, N., Lüthi, A., Gähwiler, B.H., McKinney R.A. (2003). N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor blockade during development lowers long-term potentiation threshold without affecting dynamic range of CA3-CA1 synapses. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 100(9):5503-8.
  • Mori M, Abegg MH, Gahwiler BH, Gerber U. (2004). A frequency-dependent switch from inhibition to excitation in a hippocampal unitary circuit. Nature 23;431(7007):453-6.
  • Raineteau, O., Rietschin, L., Gradwohl, G., Guillemot, F., Gähwiler, B.H. (2004). Neurogenesis in hippocampal slice cultures. Mol Cell Neurosci. 26(2): 241-250.
  • Abegg, M.H., Savic, N., Ehrengruber, M.U., McKinney, R,A., Gähwiler, B.H. (2004). Epileptiform activity in rat hippocampus strengthens excitatory synapses. J Physiol. (Lond.) 15;554: 439-448.
  • Richards D.A., Mateos, J.M., Hugel, S., de Paola, V., Caroni, P., Gähwiler, B.H. McKinney RA. (2005) Glutamate induces the rapid formation of spine head protrusions in hippocampal slice cultures. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102(17): 6166-71.
  • Raineteau, O., Hugel, S., Ozen, I.., Rietschin, L., Sigrist, M., Arber, S., Gähwiler, B.H. (2006). Conditional labeling of newborn granule cells to visualize their integration into established circuits in hippocampal slice cultures. Mol Cell Neurosci 32(4): 344-55.
  • Mori, M., Gähwiler, B.H., Gerber, U (2007). Recruitment of an inhibitory hippocampal network after bursting in a single granule cell. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 18: 7640-45.