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.

Column Speakers

Merete Nordentoft

Column Speaker
CORE - Copenhagen Research Center for Mental Health
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
University of Copenhagen

Rikke Steensbjerre Møller

Column Speaker
Danish Epilepsy Center - Filadelfia
IRS - Department of Regional Health Research
University of Southern Denmark

More Columns

Motor and Pain

Movement and its finely tuned control are at the center of all behaviors. The neuronal circuits controlling movement are found throughout the nervous system. Many brain diseases lead to impairment of motor function, and motor circuits are subject to plasticity and learning. Studies of motor circuits are therefore central to understanding brain function and the target for rehabilitation.

Neurodegenerative Diseases

This column will offer PhD students the opportunity to pursue research within memory processes and the most frequent neurodegenerative disorders: Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, and α-synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple systems atrophy.

Neuroinflammation and Neuron-Glia Interactions

Neuroinflammation is a rapidly expanding field that has revolutionized our understanding of acute and chronic neurological diseases and is currently considered a prime target for the development of new therapies. Neuroinflammation is the response of reactive CNS components to altered homeostasis, regardless of the cause to be endogenous or exogenous.

Brain Vasculature and Barriers

The vasculature maintains tissue microenvironments that are essential for the function and survival of cells throughout the nervous system. Accordingly, local nervous system blood flow is regulated to maintain tissue oxygenation and meet changing metabolic demands.

Brain States and Brain-Body Interactions

Now more than ever, there is a lot of fascinating science happening in neuroscience demonstrating how important the internal state of the body is for brain function and vice versa. It has become clear that the link between the brain and body plays a vital role for both physical and mental health.

Mood and Reward

Mood disorders and alcohol-/ substance use disorders are common and debilitating heterogeneous conditions associated with structural and functional abnormalities in reward-related brain structures such as the caudate-putamen, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus.