INE/Research/Team Lenk

Team Lenk

For a long time, it was assumed that only neurons contribute to cognition in mammals. Recently, scientists have shown that astrocytes not only provide a support function and contribute to nutrition in the brain but also directly influence neuronal activity. Astrocytes belong to the class of glial cells, which make up the majority of cells in the human brain. Astrocytes form a tripartite synapse together with a pre- and a postsynaptic neuron. They are also connected to other astrocytes via gap junctions and form a non-overlapping syncytium. The main signal of these non-excitable cells is calcium.

Research Topics

Computational Gliosciences
Computational gliosciences provide a theoretical basis for studying glial cells such as astrocytes using computational models. We are developing models of neuron-astrocyte networks and single-cell astrocytes (mainly in MATLAB, Python and COMSOL).

Conducting in vitro experiments
To investigate neuronal and astrocytic activity and obtain parameters for our computational models, we perform multielectrode array measurements and calcium imaging.

Developing analysis tools
To analyze experimental and simulated data, we develop analysis tools in MATLAB and Python.

Team Members

Current Team Members
Matteo Baldan, exchange student from Padua University

Past Team Members
Lea Fritschi, external Master's thesis, ETHZ
Anna Ignatowicz

Current Topics (Bachelor/Master)
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If you are interested in writing your thesis with me, please send me an email.

Bachelor thesis:
1) Role of glutamate transporter in major depressive disorder

Master thesis:
1) Neuron-astrocyte network models in synchronization and desynchronization
2) Estimating model parameters for a neuronal spiking model according to experimental data (strong mathematical background required)
3) Analysis of astrocytic calcium signals with deep learning

Contact / Links
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Institute of Neural Engineering
Stremayrgasse 16/IV
8010 Graz, Austria
kerstin.lenk@tugraz.at
+43-316-873-30712

website
astrocyteNet@twitter

Member:
Initiative Gehirnforschung Steiermark (Inge ST)
Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI)
Neurowissenschaftliche Gesellschaft (NWG)