The aim of BRAINSCAPES is to map in detail the biological mechanisms underlying multiple brain disorders (‘brainscaping’).

Recent genetic discovery studies have provided unprecedented insight into the genes involved in brain disorders. The next step is to use this knowledge for gaining mechanistic disease insight. In BRAINSCAPES, we develop novel analytic and experimental tools to study the functional consequences of risk genes on the function of specific cells, their circuits and functional output. We aim to provide insight into the molecular and cellular basis of complex brain disorders that can be used to design novel treatments. The overarching (10 year) goal of this project is to gain insight into the molecular and cellular basis of complex brain disorders that can be used to design novel treatments.

The consortium is led by Danielle Posthuma, and co-led by another 5 PIs, including Guus Smit and Huib Mansvelder. They are complemented by a diverse team of excellent researchers at different stages in their careers with expertise in computational, fundamental, and translational neuroscience at 7 Dutch institutes. The project is funded for the years 2020-2030 by a Gravitation grant from the Dutch government.

BRAINSCAPES is organized in multiple work packages (WPs), each focusing on their own expertise while connecting complex neurogenetics to neurobiology by making smart use of the wealth of results from the current genetic revolution, the availability of large biological datasets at the single cell level and the application of the very latest techniques from neurobiology.

WP1 – Comprehensive data integration strategies for GWAS and brainformatics’ data. Researchers: Danielle Posthuma (co-leader), Boudewijn Lelieveldt (co-leader), Martijn van den Heuvel, Sophie van der Sluis, Marcel Reinders, Ahmed Mahfouz, Thomas Höllt.

WP2 – Neural cell localization of brain disorder-relevant genes. Researchers: Elly Hol (co-leader), Jeroen Pasterkamp (co-leader), Alexander van den Oudenaarden, Guus Smit, Onur Basak.

WP3 – Neuronal connectivity: from anatomy to function. Researchers: Guus Smit (lead), Jeroen Pasterkamp, Roger Adan, Matthijs Verhage, Hujib Mansvelder, Boudewijn Lelieveldt, Martijn van den Heuvel, Danielle Posthuma, Michel van den Oever, Priyanka Rao-Ruiz.

WP4 – Mechanisms: establishing causal roles of identified cell types and circuits in brain disorders. Researchers: Huib Mansvelder (lead), Roger Adan, Sabine Spijker, Ingo Willuhn, Michel van den Oever, Priyanka Rao-Ruiz, Sophie van der Sluis, Frank Meye.

WP5 – ThinkTank: Moving projects ahead. Researchers: Jeroen Pasterkamp (lead), Danielle Posthuma, Guus Smit, Huib Mansvelder, Elly Hol, Boudewijn Lelieveldt.

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