Valentin Nägerl, Institute for Interdisciplinary Neuroscience, Bordeaux Neurocampus, Université de Bordeaux, France
Intelligent design at the nanoscale: Super-resolution imaging of
brain structure and function
Brain cells such as neurons and astrocytes exhibit an extremely elaborate morphology, and their functional specializations like synapses and glial processes often fall below the resolution limit of conventional light microscopy. This is a huge obstacle for neurobiologists because the nanoarchitecture critically shapes fundamental functions like synaptic transmission and Ca2+ signaling. Super-resolution microscopy can overcome this problem, offering the chance to visualize the structural and molecular organization of brain cells in a living and dynamic tissue context, unlike traditional methods like electron microscopy or atomic force microscopy. In my talkI will review our contributions to developing live-cell super-resolution (STED) microscopy approaches and their application to key problems in cellular neurobiology concerning the structure, function and plasticity of hippocampal synapses, including their glial partners and the surrounding extracellular space.
Valentin Nägerl is a Professor of Neuroscience and Bioimaging and leads the research group 'Synaptic Plasticity and Super-Resolution Microcopy' at the Interdisciplinary Institute for NeuroScience. His research is centered on the development and application of super-resolution microscopy technology to study the nanoscale mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and brain physiology using the mouse brain as a model system.
After undergrad studies in physics and medicine in Göttingen, he got a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA with Istvan Mody and did a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology with Tobias Bonhoeffer, spending research visits at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry with the Nobel laureate-to-be Stefan Hell. In 2009, he obtained the habilitation for neuroscience from the Technical University of Munich under Arthur Konnerth, before setting up his own lab in Bordeaux. In 2017, he became senior member of the 'Institut Universitaire de France', and his work has been recognized by an 'Equipe FRM' award (2016) and a Research Prize from the French Academy of Sciences (2018). He has received two highly competitive HFSP program awards (2010 and 2020) and an ERC synergy grant (2020). In 2021, he was promoted to the rank of 'Professeur classe exceptionelle’.