The project focuses on the unravelling of the neural circuits that encode (food) reward, and aims at determining how these circuits are functionally altered by adverse events like stress. This research may ultimately benefit the understanding of prevalent brain-related pathologies, such as eating disorders, obesity and drug addiction, in which adverse events often play a crucial role in the aetiology. The main technical approaches utilized in the laboratory include patch clamp electrophysiology, optogenetic probing of neural connections, viral tracing, photometric measurements, and behavioral assays in animal models.
The department of Translational Neuroscience is part of the Brain Center within the University Medical Center Utrecht (www.translationalneuroscience.nl). The research group of Frank Meye studies how synaptic changes occurring within neural circuits give rise to the seeking of rewards, such as tasty food and drugs of abuse. This research group addresses this challenge by combining patch-clamp electrophysiology with other state-of-the-art approaches.
We are seeking a highly motivated and conscientious candidate who recently obtained an MSc degree in neuroscience or a related field, with demonstrable affinity for unravelling synaptic plasticity within neural circuitry involved in reward seeking in animal models.
It is important that the candidate can demonstrate an interest in the study of synaptic transmission and/or of neural circuits. The candidate needs to be interested in working with rodents, and in an ideal scenario would already have a license to work with animals (or should otherwise be motivated to obtain it). An interest to work on the function of the reward system and on the mechanisms behind synaptic plasticity are required.
Pre-existing experience with optogenetics, neurophysiology, viral tracing, stereotactic surgery, behavioral assays, and/or programming skills are non-essential, but are considered to be strengths. The candidate should be willing to acquire these skills in so far as they are lacking.