On October 11th the start symposium for the National Centre of Affective Disorders (NCAD) took place in Frankfurt. Nadja Freund participated and was impressed by the interesting talks, nice atmosphere and fruitful discussions. Plans for collabortaions with animal models for affective disorders were already made. We are looking forward to further meetings and projects with our colleagues!
From 09/12/22 to 09/14/22 the third joint congress of the AGNP and DGBP took place in Berlin. Nadja Freund and Patrick Reinhardt took an active part in this congress. Patrick had the honor of giving a lecture on animal experiments on the hedonic effect of the dopamine D1 receptor and Nadja was honored to receive the DGBP young scientists award for her research. As part of the award ceremony, she gave a lecture with the following title: Dopamine receptor manipulation in rodents – Findings for Bipolar Disorder.
The 21st Annual Meeting of the DGBS in Frankfurt am Main was held under the heading: Bipolar and Addiction – Comorbidity and Differential Diagnosis. From September 9th, 2022 to September 11th, 2022, Kirsten Schmerder and Nadja Freund represented our working group and took part in various symposia and workshops.
From 15.08. – 19.08.22 the German-Turkish Summer School took place in Istanbul.
The summer school was aimed towards master students/ PhD students with a neuroscience background interested in comparative neuroscience and evolution. Among other things, the summer school comprised talks by leading experts in the field, the opportunity to present own ongoing or planned research in quick five min talks, and individual discussion sessions with experienced research for the sake of career planning. Prof. Dr. Nadja Freund and Sevim Isparta had the honor of giving a lecture entitled: Emotions across species (Freund) and Investigation of the Effect of Prenatal Stress on Laterality in Rats using a Novel Motor Laterality Testing Apparatus (Isparta). Sevim even won the best presenation award.
On July 15, 2022, finally the academic ceremony of the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology could be held in person. During these festivities, Annakarina Mundorf was officially awarded her PhD certificate.
Following the official part in the Audimax, celebrations took place in the Botanical Gardens. Here, we were not only able to see Anna again, but also met many former students and colleagues from other groups. It was a nice occasion to finally meet and exchange ideas face to face again.
One of the biggest FENS Forum ever took place on July 9-13, 2022 in Paris. Prof. Dr. Nadja Freund represented our working group. She was impressed by the many contributions on maternal immune activation and early life stress..
This semester, our working group is again using an online questionnaire to survey the connection between personality traits and attitudes towards animal experiments. Prerequisites for participation are the age of majority and sufficient knowledge of German to understand the questions. We would be happy about a large participation. Studies
Happy to finally share our new translational review an withe matter alterations in depression. Lots of work together with Mate Abraham (his first first-author paper), Annakarina Mundorf, Nadja Freund and Katja Bordmann.
Hello Prof. Freund, today I would like to ask you a few questions about you and your laboratory.
Can you briefly tell us about your professional career?
I started my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry with the vision to later work in a pharmaceutical company developing new drugs to treat cancer. However, during my studies I just by chance attended a talk given by Onur Güntürkün and became very fascinated by the brain. That’s why I ended up doing my PhD thesis with him in Biopsychology. Towards the end of my PhD while I still held the fascination of the brain I remembered my early desire to do clinically oriented research. Therefore, pursuing my research career on psychiatric disorder seemed very logical. Fortunately, the fellowship by the Leopoldina allowed me to join the lab of Susan Andersen at McLean Hospital/Harvard medical school where I was able to work with several rat models for psychiatric disorders.
Which mentor influenced you the most during your professional career?
I am very grateful that I have several mentors who influenced me and who are still available for advice etc. I highly recommend every young scientist to find themselves a mentor (either in a formal setting or someone they informally meet e.g. for coffee). You will learn a lot and even realizing that sometimes your mentor’s way is not your way can be very helpful.
Why did you choose the branch of research in Psychiatric Disorders?
As mentioned before I was interested in brain research specifically in influences on the developing brain from early on and later wanted a more clinical focus.
Looking back, was that a good decision?
Yes, it was. I love what I do and think with all the obstacles and rejections for manuscripts and grant applications you get, you need some sort of passion for your work. If I had chosen a topic not based on my interest but on timeliness of on someone else’s advice, I would not have survived in academia.
What do you enjoy most about your job and what motivates you every day?
Interacting with students and co-workers and discussing research ideas with them. In addition, when I meet with patients I get motivated to advance our knowledge on psychiatric disorders to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.
What professional achievements are you particularly proud of?
Two things come to my mind. The first one is the Jule-Angst-Award of the German Bipolar Foundation. I received it for my work to develop an animal model for Bipolar Disorder. As this work was inspirited by a friend of mine who suffers from Bipolar Disorder and is therefore a project quite close to my heard I was extremely proud to receive this prize.
The other one is that I am already ‘mother’ (as in German we call the MD/PhD supervisor Doktormutter) to 3 academic children and supervised several Master students. I am very proud that I could support several young people in starting their academic careers.
In the last two years we have been accompanied by the Covid-19 pandemic. How has the pandemic affected research and specifically your working group?
Very early at the pandemic we were not even allowed on campus and could only finish very critical experiments. But even later on, working in teams, home office and social distancing made lab life very hard. As mentioned above, I get motivated by interactions with other researchers and think that our work suffered from the loss of informal discussion and crazy research ideas over beer etc.
What are your goals for 2022?
I really hope that we can go back to more normality in 2022 and have in-person lab meetings and social gatherings. Securing some grant money would be an addition bonus😉 .
We are very pleased to welcome Kimberly Bösing and Malin Hedstück back to our laboratory. After completing their bachelor’s degree in our laboratory in 2021, we are pleased to also supervise their master’s theses. Malin and Kimberly are working with the poly I:C schizophrenia mouse model that is already established in our lab. Primarily, they will work with cell cultures. They are looking at the effects of poly I:C activated microglial cells on neural stem cells. Malin focuses on the neurospheres, whereas Kimberly focuses on the neurogenesis of the NSCs. Here’s to another great collaboration.