The diseases that affect the nervous system can be devastating and take many forms: neurodegeneration, congenital cognitive deficits, psychiatric disorders, infections and trauma, to name only a few. The causes of most of these diseases are not known and fundamental research will be essential in uncovering them. Scientists at NeuroPSI seek to understand the origins of the diseases of the nervous system and to find ways to prevent and to treat them.
What is the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to the aetiology of complex psychiatric diseases? What are the mechanisms resulting in loss or dysfunction of neurons in neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, spinal cord and retina? How do toxic or pathogenic insults disrupt brain homeostasis and impair neurogenesis? How are pathogens detected in the brain, and how can a dysfunction of these detection pathways lead to adverse responses in the absence of infection? What roles do the resident immune cells of the nervous system play? Is neuroinflammation always a bad thing? What are its impacts on the functions and plasticity of neurons, on other cells in the nervous system, and ultimately on cognitive functions? Can lost neurons or axons be regained or compensated for, and can we intervene to promote regeneration of the nervous system? How can we make the brain accessible to different molecules so that, for example, we could correct faulty genes in the neurons?
Researchers from all departments of NeuroPSI address these questions from different perspectives, by taking advantage of various model organisms including fishes, amphibians, birds, and rodents, and by using cutting-edge approaches and technologies. Their work will contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex and diverse processes that underlie neurological disorders, and particularly the double-edged role of neuroinflammation. This fundamental work will lead to novel approaches to prevent or treat various neurological diseases. The work at NeuroPSI touches on diseases from paediatric intellectual disability to old age-onset dementia, and including viral encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, retinitis pigmentosa, Andersen-Tawil syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy and metabolic disorders.