Principles of neuronal rewiring and repair after CNS injury
Our research focus lies on understanding fundamental principles of cellular physiology and pathophysiology which are part of the intrinsic repair machinery enabling forms of regeneration and recovery in the brain. However, why some nerve cells are chosen for regeneration while others maintain their old function, is not known. It is also not understood why and how some nerve cells form new connections, how old connections regrow, which neuronal circuits reorganize, stabilize or disintegrate and how neuronal remodeling contributes to the functional outcome. We aim at revealing fundamental principles of individual nerve cell rewiring as well as the properties of nerve cell assembles to recode in response to damage and injury in order to regain lost or impaired functions. From networks to function: We use a combination of techniques, including 2-photon calcium imaging in the behaving animal, opto- and chemogenetics, sophisticated behavioral assessments for sensorimotor and cognitive functions as well as Deep Learning computer algorithms to explore causal relationships between neuronal rewiring- from a cellular resolution till a network level- and the behavioral phenotype. The examination of causal relationships between neuronal rewiring and recovery of distinct sensorimotor and cognitive features opens up new possibilities for targeted novel therapeutic approaches or optimized rehabilitative strategies in stroke and vascular dementia.
Anna-Sophia Wahl studied Medicine and Biology (as a minor as part of the MD/PhD Program) at Heidelberg University, Columbia University (New York) and the University of Bern. After finishing her MD thesis (Dr. med.) at the Interdisciplinary Center of Neuroscience, Heidelberg University she did a PhD in neuroscience with Prof. Martin E. Schwab at the Brain Research Institute, ETH and University of Zurich. After a postdoc phase and residential training in neurology and psychiatry (University Hospital Zurich and currently Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Heidelberg University), she started her own group as a Branco Weiss Fellow and recipient of a Wrangell Fellowship in the Laboratory of Neural Circuit Dynamics (head: Prof. Fritjof Helmchen) in 2019.
We are currently looking for a talented Master student investigating vascular dementia to understand memory formation and degeneration on a cellular resolution level.