• CRG
  • CRG

Studying neurodegenerative diseases through the eye of molecular biology

The Project

Neurodegenerative disorders are common diseases that affect our society. They are characterized by the loss of neurons within the brain and/or spinal cord, which results in a progressive deterioration of the function of the central and peripheral nervous system. Nowadays, no cure exists for these diseases. Neurodegeneration can affect individuals of all ages, but becomes increasingly frequent with age. With the ageing of the general population, the prevalence of these disorders is expected to rise dramatically in the next few decades. Some researchers at the CRG aim to decipher the mechanisms underlying these diseases with the hope of finding a cure someday. Help us to better understand neurodegeneration!

Neurodegenerative diseases primarily affect neurons. As these cells have no ability to regenerate themselves, losing them has a big impact on the nervous system. Many of the neurodegenerative diseases are caused by a mutation in a particular protein, which causes the aggregation of it. As these aggregates start to accumulate in neurons, cell toxicity increases until it produces cell death. Why do the mutated proteins aggregate? Why the aggregates are toxic for the cell? What can be done to avoid their formation and, therefore, stop the progression of the disease? These are some of the questions you will focus on during your stay in the laboratory.

In this project you will be given two different samples: one will be from a control patient and the other one from a diseased patient. You will be given some hints and, by literature searching, you will have to guess the disease you will be studying during the following days. New concepts and methodologies in molecular biology will be introduced to you in order to design your own research project with the aim to better understand the disease. During your investigation, you will generate real data, will undergo the analysis and will take your own conclusions. Moreover, possible approaches for future treatments will be discussed. Each of you will work in a real research environment, share knowledge and tackle technical problems within the scientific team. We hope to awake your passion for science and entice you into a research career.

Do you accept the challenge? Do you want to answer you own questions? If so, apply for this project!

Matching profiles

Biology, genetics, biomedicine, biotechnology, bioinformatics

Required materials

Lab coat, laptop

Coordinator of the project
Nieves Lorenzo

Nieves Lorenzo

Nieves Lorenzo has a Bachelor in Biochemistry Degree from University of Barcelona (UB) and a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Research from University Pompeu Fabra (UPF). After different internships and working positions in Europe, such as a microbiological production startup in Belgium and a Forest Research Institute in Finland, she started to work at the CRG in 2012. Now she is carrying on her PhD project at the CRG, in the laboratory of professor Gian Gaetano Tartaglia on his Gene Function and Evolution laboratory. Her main scientific interest resides in better understanding biochemical mechanisms of toxicity in neurodegeneration, e.g. in Parkinson’s or Alzheimer diseases.

Associated researchers
Anna Alcaine

Anna Alcaine

Anna Alcaine graduated on Biotechnology in 2014 at University of Barcelona (UB) and did a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Research at University Pompeu Fabra in 2015. She carried out her master’s thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Luciano Di Croce at the CRG, where she started her PhD in September 2015. Her PhD project is focused on understanding the link between pluripotency and cell cycle in mouse embryonic stem cells, to identify novel determinants of the pluripotent state of these cells. This could have an impact on research and innovation, not only in the field of stem cell biology and epigenetics, but also in Biotech industry or human health.

The center

The Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) is an international biomedical research institute of excellence, whose mission is to discover and advance knowledge for the benefit of society, public health and economic prosperity.