Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) typically present during childhood and can include difficulties with language and speech, motor skills, behavior, social functioning, and learning, and they may include seizures/epilepsy. NDDs encompass disturbances of the early development of the nervous system before or around the time of birth, as well as deviant patterns of brain maturation during childhood and adolescence. NDDs include disorders with dominant impairment of motor abilities such as cerebral palsy, rare genetic disorders, including intellectual disabilities, developmental and epileptic encephalopathies, and hemiplegic migraine, as well as multifactorial psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, OCD, and ADHD, that have onset in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.
Genetics play an important role in many NDDs, however, environmental risk factors may also have influence. To identify disease mechanisms and early markers of risk and resilience, several different types of investigations, including clinical, epidemiological, neurobiological, and molecular studies can be employed. Basic research into these disorders is frequently limited by the availability of suitable model systems, while clinical research is challenged by the diversity of disease presentations/diagnosis and disease trajectories.
This thematic research column presents several options to carry out clinical and/or basic research within this diverse field. We offer high-quality training of PhD students in psychopathology, cognition, socio-emotional and motor functioning, sleep patterns, structural and functional neuroimaging (MRI), electro- (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), genetics/epigenetics, epidemiological, and (pharmaco)genomics, proteomics and cellular signaling methods, as well as in the employment of stem cell/brain organoid, mouse or invertebrate models in combination with molecular, cell biological, physiological, biochemical and pharmacological tools.
By doing your lab rotations within our column, you should be able to formulate a translational PhD project in collaboration with two or more PIs in the column.