Professor Ralf Schneggenburger The Brain Mind Institute at EPFL Lausanne, Laboratory of Synaptic Mechanisms – The Brain Mind Institute Lausanne

Schneggenburger Ralf

  • Alumni

Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology

  • The Brain Mind Institute at EPFL Lausanne, Laboratory of Synaptic Mechanisms
  • +41 21 693 5364
  • +41 21 693 1897
  • Switzerland

About Professor Ralf Schneggenburger

The Schneggenburger lab studies molecular, cellular and systems aspects of neuronal communication at synapses.

We investigate the molecular mechanisms of transmitter release and its control by Ca2+ ions at the synapse. Furthermore, we study how neuronal circuits and synaptic connections are specified during brain development, to optimally fulfill the signaling needs of specific sensory circuits. We recently showed that the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway is a major determinant of large synapse size in the auditory system.

We also investigate how use-dependent synaptic plasticity shapes the wiring, and strength of synapses in sensory circuits. For these studies, we use the auditory system as a convenient model, because it shows a high degree of synapse size specificity, which is important for the computations performed in this system, like sound source localization. Second, sound representations at higher levels of the auditory system are sculpted by sensory experience, especially during critical periods of brain development. Finally, we are beginning to link synaptic pathways in the forebrain limbic system to the motivated behavior of animals.

Taken together, we aim to gain insight into neuronal - and synaptic network function in the context of sensory processing and the development of specific neuronal circuits. On the long term, our research should provide insight into the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, many of which represent diseases of the synapse.

Please see also:

5 Selected Publications

Han Y., Babai N., Kaeser P., Südhof T., Schneggenburger R. (2014). RIM1 and RIM2 redundantly determine Ca2+ channel density and readily-releasable pool size at a large hindbrain synapse. J Neurophysiol. , epub ahead of print  

Babai N., Kochubey O., Keller D., Schneggenburger R. (2014). An alien divalent ion reveals a major role for Ca2+ buffering in controlling slow transmitter release. J Neurosci. , 34(38):12622-35. 

Xiao L., Michalski N., Kronander E., Gjoni E., Genoud C., Knott G. and Schneggenburger R. (2013) BMP-signaling specifies the development of a large and fast CNS synapse. Nat Neurosci. , 16: 856-864.

Michalski N., Babai N., Renier N., Perkel D., Chédotal A., Schneggenburger R. (2013) Robo3-dependent axon midline crossing conditions functional maturation of a large commissural synapse. Neuron. 78, 855-868.

Kochubey O., and Schneggenburger R. (2011) Synaptotagmin increases the dynamic range of synapses by driving Ca2+ - evoked release and by clamping a near-linear remaining Ca2+ sensor. Neuron. , 69: 736-748.

Fellowships, Awards and Honours

2011            First place & offer W3/C4 Chair Position in Physiology, Freiburg University, Germany     
2008            Vice-Chair & Chair of the Gordon Research Conference "Synaptic Transmission" (& '06)
2005            First Place & offer W3/C4 Chair Position in Physiology, University of Erlangen
2001            Heisenberg fellow of the German Research Council (DFG) (Dec 2011-July 2005)
2001            Plenary lecturer, German Physiological Society meeting
1994            Post-Doc Fellowship of the European Union (until 1996)