Syn2Psy - Synaptic Dysfunction in Neuropsychiatric Disorders


Project Summary

The large public health burden and individual suffering associated with mental disorders speaks to the need to study their biological underpinning. Genetic research, animal models of disease and human neuroimaging studies have provided convergent evidence to common pathways implicated in their aetiology, namely pathways that regulate synapse development and plasticity, which result in abnormal structural and functional connectivity in the brain of neuropsychiatric patients. The time has come to integrate studies across different levels, leading to the identification of signatures of illness associated to specific risk pathways, which can drive the development of novel therapies. The objective of Syn2Psy is to provide high-level Ph.D. training for 14 early stage researchers (ESRs) to answer three critical questions: 1) What are the synaptic defects at the basis of neuropsychiatric disorders? 2) Which are the neuronal circuits that are disrupted, and may be targets for therapies? 3) How and when can we modulate the course of disease? Syn2Psy combines strong scientific with complementary know-how from the non-academic sector, and network-wide actions on scientific and complementary soft skills, to train a new generation of high achieving ESRs and provide them with the transferable skills necessary for thriving careers in a flourishing area. Industrial partners Lundbeck, Eurotrials and ZEISS provide experience on drug, clinical trials and technology development, the Coimbra University Hospital exposes the students to clinical research, while the clinic for child development PIN and the Marionet theatre company offer training in societal awareness and outreach. The excellent basic scientific knowledge and diverse skills acquired by ESRs will enhance their employment prospects in both the academic and non-academic sectors, and their scientific contributions will inform novel therapeutic approaches for alleviating this leading cause of disability worldwide.

More about the project here.

Main Goals

Syn2Psy scientific goals are to: 1) Identify synaptic mechanisms that are dysfunctional in neuropsychiatric disorders; 2) Generate and characterize human cell derived and animal models of disease that will inform on neuronal pathways that are disrupted and may be targets for therapies; 3) Test rational therapies, and understand how life stress impacts on disease pathways.

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External Team

Principal Investigators – Carmen Sandi, Simone Astori;
Early Stage Researchers – Alessandro Chioino, Loredana Cumpana.


Principal Investigators – Daniel Choquet, Eric Hosy, Laurent Groc.
Early Stage Researcher – Daniel Hunter.

Principal Investigator – Vincenzo De Paola.
Early Stage Researchers – Elizabeth Brockman, Marcos Sintes.

Principal Investigator – Catalina Betancur.
Early Stage Researchers – Laura Upton, Flavio Tomasi.

Lundbeck A/S:
Principal Investigators – Niels Plath, Kjartan Herrik, Kristi Anne Kohlmeier.
Early Stage Researcher – Ágata Silván.

Principal Investigators – Emily Osterweil, Peter Kind.
Early Stage Researchers – Vanesa Salazar, Manuela Rizzi.


Project Details

Project Code

GA nº 813986

Start Date


End Date


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