Home » News » New collaborative project to computationally model brain diffusion awarded nearly 1 million dollars

New collaborative project to computationally model brain diffusion awarded nearly 1 million dollars

16 Jan 2023

January marks the start of a new Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) project DiffusionBrain between Tonnesen’s lab at ACHUCARRO and UPV/EHU, and Fidel Santamaria lab at University of Texas – San Antonio (USA).

The main objective is to build a new computational model of diffusion in the brain extracellular space, and apply this to gain new insights into the fundamentals of signaling and metabolite clearance, and how these processes are regulated by the dynamic morphology and viscosity of the extracellular compartment.

One of the project aims is to apply the new computational model to understand diffusional escape of transmitters released onto synapses located on dendritic spines. Credit: Gimenez and Tonnesen, Achucarro and University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).
The initial work on the computational model has been done by PhD student Paula Gimenez under supervision of Jan Tonnesen, head of the Laboratory of Neuronal Excitability. Both are working at the Achucarro center and are co-affiliated with the University of the Basque Country.

The two participating labs will build on the initial computational modelling efforts from Tonnesen lab member Paula Gimenez and further synergize their expertise in STED microscopy based super-resolution shadow imaging (SUSHI) and computational modelling of diffusion. The novelty of the model to be developed is that it will rely on actual super-resolved images of the extracellular space in live brain slices, whereas current diffusion models rely on synthetic representative tissue or reconstructed electron microscopy images of tissue that may be confounded by fixation artifacts.

The project has been awarded a total of around 900.000 euros from the NIH and the Spanish AEI and will run for three years.

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