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Rebecca Matsas, Research Director, Head of Department of Neurobiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute

Panagiotis Politis, Principal Investigator, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens

Teaching hours and weekly schedule

This is a 1st semester, 2 weeks obligatory course that corresponds to 4 ECTs and 29 total hours of lectures and student presentations.


This is an intensive two-week course focused on cellular, molecular and biochemical aspects of developmental neurobiology and neuroscience. The courses will include lectures by established researchers with diverse and complementary academic profiles. The main emphasis of the course will be on the complex cellular events and signaling cascades that occur during embryogenesis that lead to generation of the nervous system. Our goal is to provide a systematic introduction to the molecular mechanisms that control cell fate specification, differentiation, and function of neural cells during mammalian brain development. An additional aim is to discuss nervous system plasticity in the adult brain and particularly how the presence of adult neural stem cells may contribute to brain repair strategies. Special attention will be given to describe the key methodological advances and research tools, developed in the last few years, which have changed our view about the formation of the mammalian brain. Therefore, this course will provide a contemporary overview of neural development for post-graduate students with some background in cell biology.

Course Overview

This course aims: a) to introduce participants to the major issues of developmental neuroscience, b) to familiarize students with the wide range of research approaches, tools and methodology currently used to study the development of the mammalian nervous system, c) to discuss the concept of neural stem cells during development and in the adult and d) to encourage students to develop the skills required for a meaningful appreciation of experimental strategies and research articles.

This course will cover recent advances in understanding the molecular and cellular events underlying cell fate specification and differentiation, migration, axon guidance, synapse formation, the critical role of neurotrophic factors, and cell death as a developmental process. Pathologies arising from failures of these processes will be discussed. In particular, the lectures will cover the following general subjects:

•             Neural Induction

•             Neural tube formation and patterning

•             Cortical & Cerebellar Neurogenesis

•             Regulatory mechanisms of cell cycle progression/exit

•             Neuronal migration and differentiation

•             Axon Guidance & Adhesion Molecules

•             Trophic factors and programmed cell death during nervous system  development

•             Synapses: formation, function and plasticity

•             Development of neural circuits

•             Development of the neuroimmune system

•             Gliogenesis, myelination, remyelination

•             Neural stem cells, adult neurogenesis & neuroregeneration

•             Advanced Methods in Developmental & Regenerative Neurobiology


Titles of lectures and names of the lecturers

Developmental Neuroscience Lecturers
Co-ordinatos: Rebecca Matsas, Panos Politis
Neural Induction, Neural tube formation and patterning Panos Politis
Cortical Neurogenesis Myrto Denaxa
Cerebellar Neurogenesis & Adult Neurogenesis Rebecca Matsas
Gliogenesis and myelination Florentia Papastefanaki
Axon Guidance & Adhesion Molecules Maria Gaitanou
Development of neural circuits and plasticity Laskaro Zagoraiou
Synapses: formation and function Nondas Doxakis
Development of the neuroimmune system Era Taoufik
Modeling human brain development “in a dish” Georgia Kouroupi
Trophic factors and programmed cell death during nervous system development Giannis Charalampopoulos
Advanced methods in developmental & regenerative neurobiology Myrto Denaxa