FAT4BRAIN partners participate in a last project symposium organized by LIOS
In April 20-21, the FAT4BRAIN project partners from Latvia, Austria, Germany, and Sweden met in Riga for the last meeting of the project, the Symposium on novel drug target and pathway identification. The scientific programme of the symposium included not only project partners, but also invited speakers who are experts in energy metabolism. The first day started with a lecture from invited speaker Prof. Sean Adams (University of California, USA), who shared his experience on the role of myoglobin as a metabolic pathway regulator. Erich Gnaiger, the founder of Oroboros Instruments, and FAT4BRAIN project manager Dr. Edgars Liepinsh gave comprehensive lectures in the field of energy metabolism and, more specifically, on mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation in the brain. In the afternoon, a separate session was dedicated to early-stage researchers where Kārlis Pleiko (University of Latvia,University of Tartu), Kateřina Pospíšilová (Charles University, Czech Republic), Bianca Seminotti (University of Pittsburgh, USA), Mateus Grings (Oroboros Instruments, Austria), Edijs Vavers (University of Tartu, Estonia) and Melita Ozola (LIOS, Riga Stradiņš university) gave talks and discussed their research directions. This session covered a variety of topics, from carnitine and fatty acid oxidation disorders to cancer theranostics and the sigma-1 receptor as a target for seizure control. The participants of the symposium also visited the Laboratory of Pharmaceutical pharmacology of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis and got introduced to scientific interests and the research possibilities of the Latvian team.
The next day started with a lecture from Prof. Georg Reiser (Otto-von-Guericke-University, Magdeburg, Germany) on novel neuronal strategies to protect the brain from lipid-induced toxicity. The next talk was given by PhD Serge Luquet (Paris Cité University, France) on how lipid sensing is important for the dopamine-encoded reward system. The day continued with presentations from FAT4BRAIN project coordinator prof. Maija Dambrova (LIOS) and partners Helgi Schiöth (Uppsala University), Dr. Bianca Besteher (Jena University Hospital), Dr. Luiza Cardoso (Oroboros Instruments, Austria), Dr. Līga Zvejniece (LIOS) about their scientific achievements and future perspectives. The participants acknowledged how the FAT4BRAIN project was successful not only for their own group, but also for everyone involved in the implementation of the project and stressed the benefits for early-stage researches as participants in a project of such high scientific quality. The advisory board expert, prof. Angelo Azzi (Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University) gave inspiring closing words and facilitated discussions in the symposium. The project partners also mentioned additional ongoing collaborations and future project proposals that have emerged as an additional outcome of the FAT4BRAIN project.
Symposium 'Novel drug target and pathway identification'
Download the final programm here
Early-stage and career researchers improved their skills in networking and grant writing
In February, FAT4BRAIN project early-stage and career researchers could attend the workshop to learn more about the peculiarities of different nationalities that must be considered when communicating.
The invited speakers of the workshop, prof. Martin Walter from Jena University hospital and personal and business coach Ines Kaiser introduced the early-stage researchers to the most important considerations when communicating with colleagues from various nationalities. They advised what kind of gestures improve communication. Also, they mentioned which gestures are better not to use because their meaning could be different in different nationalities. Ines Kaiser also shares advice on how to improve the motivation letters when applying for a new position. PhD Jörgen Jonsson from Uppsala University gave tips on advanced data search, which could be helpful in drafting a project proposal. Prof. Helgi Schiöth from Uppsala University shared his experience in writing project proposals and also introduced participants to his perspective as an evaluator of scientific project proposals. PhD Antons Sizovs shared his experience and compared the differences between the grant system in Europe and the USA. At the end of this workshop, the participants played a game called “The Publishing Trap” focused on research dissemination and scholarly communication in Higher Education.
Early-stage and career researchers attended digital presentation workshop lead by neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Wold
The Digital presentation workshop was held online on the ZOOM platform on November 25th. Dr. A.Wold has several years of experience organising workshops for scientific presentations, effective writing, powerful poster presentations etc. Before the workshop, participants had to listen to video materials about digital presentations and prepare a 3-minute presentation about their current research activities. During the workshop, attendants had to participate actively and step out of their comfort zones, for example, by spontaneously presenting the image they had just seen or giving 30 second-long elevator pitch. Afterwards, all participants demonstrated their presentation to the group and received detailed feedback from all group members. Overall, the workshop helped improve young researchers' digital presentation skills and reminded participants how to become successful presenters.
FAT4BRAIN partners participate in a symposium organized by Jena University Hospital
In October, FAT4BRAIN partners participated in the symposium hosted by Jena University Hospital in Jena, Germany. The lectures covered the biochemical and clinical aspects of long-term symptoms of COVID-19, the difference between acylcarnitines and acetylcarnitine, the association of acylcarnitine with depression, and gave novel insights into mitochondrial respiratory function in various blood cells. The lectures were given by Bianca Besteher, Senior psychiatrist at Universitätsklinikum Jena; Prof. Maija Dambrova, LIOS, Latvia; PhD Jörgen Jonsson Uppsala University; Assoc. prof. Yuri Milaneschi, Department of Psychiatry of Amsterdam UMC and colleagues from Oroboros Innstruments PhD Cristiane Cecatto and PhD Mateus Grings. In addition, the FAT4BRAIN project partners could attend a guided tour through research facilities of Jena University Hospital and learn more about various neuroimaging methods and application of neurostimulation in treatment of psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, there was an opportunity to learn more about the development of neuroscience from a historical perspective. The participants enjoyed this symposium and were very happy to meet each other on site in Jena and discuss the remaining events of the Fat4Brain project as well as possible collaborations in the future.
Early-stage researchers visit LIOS for Summer school in functional pharmacology
In the beginning of June Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis hosted a Summer school in functional pharmacology mainly dedicated to early-stage researchers. The Summer school started off with an interactive board game on drug development “TEST TUBES TO TABLETS” led by Keith J Williams from KW Drug Development. Speakers from LIOS, Prof. M.Dambrova, Dr. O. Pugovics, Prof. K. Jaudzems and Dr. E. Liepinsh shared their experience in drug discovery projects and gave lectures on the applicable methods and models that are developed and widely used at LIOS. Prof. H. Schiöth from Uppsala University gave a comprehensive talk on drug target classes, and a specific session was held with him to discuss how to prepare for a job interview. Participants of the Summer school also had the opportunity to share their work in a poster session and short oral presentations, as well as gain new experience in hands-on workshops on histology, behavioural studies, bioanalytical methods, statistics, and data visualization. Overall, the participants of the Summer school enjoyed gaining new knowledge, valuable discussions and networking throughout the event and were happy to meet face-to-face.
FAT4BRAIN partners participate in a workshop organized by Oroboros Instruments
In the beginning of May 2022, FAT4BRAIN partners participated in a workshop, which was organised by Oroboros Innstruments in Innsbruck, Austria.Prof. M.Dambrova (LIOS, Latvia), Dr. I.Fontana (Karolinska Institute, Sweden), Assoc. prof. J. Ehinger (Lund University, Sweden), Assoc. prof. R.K.Jentoft Olsen (Aarhus University, Denmark), Assoc. prof. N.Moisoi (De Montfort University, United Kingdom) and Assoc. prof. T.Komlodi (Semmelweis University, Hungary) gave lectures on the role of mitochondria in a various physiological and pathological processes in the preclinical and clinical samples. During the workshop a dedicated session was held to discuss FAO-Mito-CNS functionality assessment platform. Discussion was focussed on targeted analysis in brain diseases, disease-specific biomarkers, blood based approaches and opportunities on how to get more data out of single sample, as well as some specific cellular models and stress conditions were evaluated. Therefore, new opportunities and ideas for the fatty-acid oxidation measurements were suggested and will be included in the Bioblast platform. FAT4BRAIN partners also received a face-to-face demonstration of NextGen-O2k and its capabilities and visited Oroboros Innstruments laboratories. Participants enjoyed this workshop and were very happy to meet each other on-site in Innsbruck and discuss possible collaborations in the future.
Early-stage and career researchers discuss family and career balance-related issues
As revealed with the questionnaire, how to better handle family and career balance is one of the main questions that early-stage and career researchers are struggling with. Therefore, this workshop was organised to discuss several important family and career balance-related issues.
The workshop was based on real-life examples from both experienced and young researchers and was organised as an open discussion platform. The invited speaker Dr. Valeria Lulla (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK) and speakers from the partner institutions Dr. Cristiane Cecatto and Dr. Luiza Cardoso (OI, Innsbruck, Austria), Dr. Antons Sizovs (LIOS, Riga, Latvia) and Dr. Bianca Besteher (UKJ, Jena, Germany) agreed to share their personal life experiences to young researchers. Speakers went through several important life and career stages that included maternity-paternity leave, issues related to relocation and traveling with family to another country, main struggles regarding balancing between work and family as well as importance of parent roles through specific life stages. The workshop included also an information provided by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and was focused on the comparison between gender-specific family and career balance-related issues, especially those in Austria, Germany, Latvia and Sweden. As expected, the workshop resulted in a very interesting and fruitful discussion.
LIOS researchers visiting Uppsala University
In January FAT4BRAIN participants from LIOS spent one week at Uppsala University to take part in 2 trainings.
On January 17-19th the training in Drosophila genetics and behavior took place. During the visit four early-stage researchers (LIOS) learned about Drosophila handling, molecular analysis techniques and behavioral tests. Training also covered the effects of genetic and environmental manipulations on fly phenotypes, and methodologically how this can be assessed through examining fly mutants. Overall, LIOS team got first-hand understanding of how to utilize Drosophila for preclinical research, and now is in the process of establishing their own fly laboratory.
On January 20-21st twelve LIOS researchers completed practical part of the course on Laboratory Animal Science (LAS) Education and Training. The course covered the principles of the 3R's (replacement, reduction, refinement), animal welfare and ethical argumentation concerning research animals as well as laboratory animal handling, biology and experimental techniques and alternatives to animal experiments. Overall, the visit to Uppsala University allowed early-career researchers to obtain new knowledge and practical skills working with laboratory animals and was a great opportunity for experienced researchers to test and prove their long-term experience working with rodents.
Workshop on biostatistics and bioinformatics
The Unit of Functional Pharmacology, Uppsala University, provided training for LIOS researchers in the basic usage of R programming languages and biostatistics, which serve as useful tools in the management of large-scale data analysis. Lectures and practical tasks were used to familiarize researchers with R and RStudio software. During the course researchers got the introduction to basic commands and practiced in script writing. Moreover, researchers developed a firm grasp of basic statistics as well as how to practically implement them in statistical packages. Taking into account large data is being stored in databases, gained bioinformatics skills gave LIOS reesearchers a solid understanding of the vast array of different types of databases that are available and on how to interpret different types of results.
Workshop on brain energy metabolism in emotion and cognition
The workshop was hosted by Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen in collaboration with Universitaetsklinik Jena. The lectures focused on the brain function, metabolism and inflammation were given by the researchers from Universitaetsklinik Jena, Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen and invited speakers. 63 participants from partner instutions and collaborators found out about brain metabolism and inflammation crosstalk, and how state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques can help in the investigation of the neuronal changes induced by mental disorders as well as through drug challenge.
Virtual training on combined FluoRespirometry
In addition to respirometric parameters, the Oxygraph-2k allows the simultaneous detection of fluorometric signals. Training on fluorometry for early stage researchers was held in 2 parts in June and August, 2021. The scientific team of the Oroboros Instruments provided theoretical and practical support.
On June 14th the training was addressed to the measurements of the production of hydrogen peroxide using the AmplexRed assay system.
On August 24-25th participants learned how to measure alterations of mitochondrial membrane potential using different fluorescence probes, and the release of calcium from mitochondria determined by Calcium-green.
It should be noted, that shortly after the training researchers from Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis and Uppsala University performed first experiments applying novel knowledge and skills for research.
FAT4BRAIN Online workshops
June was busy month for our FAT4BRAIN project - 2 workshops took place online
On June 8th WP1 Workshop on central regulatory mechanisms of energy metabolism hosted by Uppsala University team took place. During the workshop the lecture on latest findings and up-to-date technologies on the energy metabolism research in brain were given by the researchers from Uppsala University, Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen and invited speakers. 45 participants of workshop found out what are metabolic abnormalities in major depressive disorders, how LEAP2 regulates ghrelin system, and why Drosophila is useful modle to study energy metabolism in CNS.
On June 18th 2nd workshop in series of workshops on career development “How to become a successful researcher” took place. The workshop was dedicated to Innovation and how to develop Innovation thinking using NABC model, as well as Teamwork in Project Management and what are critical points in teamwork development and how to deal with it.
Virtual training on high-resolution respirometry
During training young investigators performed instrument set-up and experiment with permeabilized cells on O2ks under supervision provided online by Oroboros Instruments exprienced researcher.
Training also involved a basal education in respiratory concepts and approaches and specific training in the use of substrate-uncoupler-inhibitor-titration (SUIT) protocols for the evaluation of respiratory parameters in intact and permeabilised cells with focus on fatty acid metabolism assessment. Based on new protocols recently developed by the science team at Oroboros Intruments, the researcher learned how to apply HRFR in studies on cell culture, as well as preclinical and clinical samples.
Training on scientific writing
Prof. Helgi Schiöth leads the unit of Functional Pharmacology at Uppsala. His research involves investigating pharmacological, genetic and behavioural aspects as well as translational neurometabolic research and central regulation of food intake across species. Professor Schiöth has been continuously listed among the worlds “most influential researchers/scientific minds” based on citations from the last 10 years. His publication and citation summary comprise a total of 411 papers in peer-reviewed journals on PubMed with over 360 original articles and 50 reviews and more than 30,000 citations overall. He published in highly ranking journals such as PNAS, Alzheimers & Dementia, Nature Reviews Neuroscience and Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.
With his great experience in this area, we are happy to announce that Prof. Helgi Schiöth will be holding the FAT4BRAIN workshop with the topic scientific writing on October 22, 2020. The workshop will be divided into two sections, a morning session with focus on evaluation techniques for junior scientists and an afternoon session with a lecture about scientific writing and Q/A for both junior and senior scientists. Evaluation of scientific texts is a key challenge within scientific writing and effective self evaluation is very important. Furthermore, scientific writing is not only about writing scientific articles, it is in general important for how research is communicated effectively. The purpose of this FAT4BRAIN workshop is to increase awareness and recognition of what constitutes a good scientific writing and to point out common pitfalls and mistakes during the process.
FAT4BRAIN School on mitochondrial physiology
The aim of the school is to initiate and extend a network in mitochondrial physiology and train early-stage researchers in both the basics and cutting edge science of mitochondria. To emphasise the interaction between early-stage researchers and experienced lecturers there will be extensive question and answer sessions to discuss understanding and research problems in the role of mitochondria in CNS physiology and pathology.
Preliminary programme could be found here
The 1st online workshop for early-stage researchers
The workshop will focus on the three topics Reseach ethics, Intellectual property and Scientific communication, presented by experts on the respective field from Uppsala University. The Schedule of the workshop could be found here.
FAT4BRAIN kick-off meeting
All partners arrived to Riga with the aim to start work on the project and , discuss implementation. During the meeting, FAT4BRAIN Executive Board, External Advisory Board, Focus area leads were appointed. Work package leaders updated schedule of upcoming events. In addition, joint publication possibilities, including review related to fatty acid metabolite involvement in CNS physiology and pathology, were discussed.