Back to search

INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research

Japan And Norway United in Brain, Education and Therapeutics

Alternative title: Japan og Norge forent i Hjernen, Utdanning og Terapi

Awarded: NOK 4.5 mill.

The aim of the project was to educate young neuroscientists in Norway and Japan, while actively carrying out research projects in either of the participating institutes. Our cutting-edge, international research collaboration among the three internationally high-ranking research groups secured a research and training space which is unique in the world. We meant to bring together and exchange students working on new genetic tools to manipulate the functions of identified neurons through changing their genetic code. We succeeded in bringing together students from Norway and Japan during two events in Norway and three events in Japan. Although we identified PhD candidates to participate in the planned exchange program, the long-lasting COVID pandemic has prevented implementation except for one short stay of a student from Tohoku University at the Kavli Institute in spring 2022. We also had to skip the planned meeting among junior researchers, but other deliverables set out in the application have been fulfilled, including five meetings, two digital teaching modules, available on You Tube, and five published meeting reports. All our courses, seminars and meetings have received very positive evaluations, not only from the students coming from our own institutions but also from a substantial number of participating students from other institutions, as well as our invited speakers. In 2022 we finished the project, as scheduled, with a very successful international symposium on new tools to study neural circuits that took place in Kyoto in September.

We organized four courses as planned and we expect that these will contribute to the broader education of our students. Material of one of these courses has resulted in two educational products that will be further developed and improved in the coming year(s) and are now publicly available. We have designed new vectors to impact the brain based on human data. Further testing is needed to establish the applicability and specificity. We carried out enhancer enhancer analyses of 4 primate brain regions in 2018, and these will be used to design vectors specific to parts of the medial prefrontal cortex in relation to the ongoing research on mechanisms of depression by one of the partners. This may lead to new approaches to selectively and with long duration change activity levels in specific brain areas involved in depression. We succeeded to design vectors crossing the BBB in primates and succeeded in brain-wide gene transduction into neurons following intravenous administration of the vector of macaque and marmoset neonates. We further succeeded in cerebellar Purkinje cell-selective gene transduction. This may provide a stepping stone towards systemic injections of vectors to reset gene activity in specific neuronal populations, i.e. neurons that are causally implicated in brain diseases. • 6 Norwegian students to international symposium and visit primate labs Kyoto and Inuyama 20 – 25 September 2022 • 8 Japanese students to Norwegian PhD conference 27 -29 September Stiklestad and visit to Kavli Institute of 5 students on 3 October • One month stay of 1Tohoku student, Hinako Kirikae, to Trondheim, February 2022.

Educating young neuroscientists at MSc and PhD level happens hands on, actively carrying out research projects. Successful training depends on training by excellent scientists, who head excellent research groups that are embedded in a large multi-disciplinary environment. Here we propose to initiate a ground-breaking, cutting-edge, international research collaboration, with a very high potential to result in treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Together, the three partners secure a research and training space, which is unique in the world. The two Japanese partners have a longstanding collaborative tradition and this holds also true for NTNU and Tohoku University. The participating Japanese and Norwegian students will actively contribute to an international research collaboration. They will be exposed to different research cultures since they will study for some time in a country different from where they are being educated and will obtain their degree. Their projects will all be part of a frontiers research endeavor, based on the very recent discovery of new tools to manipulate the phenotype of identified neurons through changing their genotype, providing a very high potential to result in treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. We will initiate a student and researcher exchange program between the three partners, including exchange visits and hands-on courses at all locations. These courses will be recorded to prepare new online educational materials, to be used in training generations of students to come. An added aspect will include the exposure to neuromedicine, i.e. the application of obtained fundamental knowledge towards the development and assessment of new therapeutics.

Funding scheme:

INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research