Lectures by Asta Håberg & Tomas Björklund

Nansen Neuroscience Lectures 2017

Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi, Drammensveien 78, Oslo

The Nansen Neuroscience Lectures (NNL) are organized in conjunction with Fridtjof Nansen's birthday to commemorate his fundamental contribution to neuroscience*. The NNLs are given by speakers selected from the top tier of neuroscience research.

Admission: Open to public, no charge

11:30 -- 12:00 Coffee and refreshments, mingling

12:00 -- 12:03 Opening by Ole M Sejersted, President of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

12:03 -- 12:06 Introduction by Linda H Bergersen, University of Oslo

12:06 -- 12:46 Lecture by Asta Håberg, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim: "An epidemiological approach to neuroscience"

12:46 -- 13:00 Discussion and questions from the audience, moderator Jon Storm-Mathisen

13:03 -- 13:06 Introduction by Linda H Bergersen, University of Oslo

13:06 -- 13:46 Lecture by Tomas Björklund, Lund University, Lund, Sweden: "Taming viruses to map and repair the brain"

13:46 -- 14:00 Discussion and questions from the audience, moderator Jon Storm-Mathisen


Asta Håberg: "An epidemiological approach to neuroscience"
The lecture focuses on the power of large-scale web-based cognitive testing and brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in combination with prospectively collected demographic, lifestyle, somatic and psychiatric health data and clinical measures from the general population, i.e., the large-scale Nord-Trøndelag Health Survey (HUNT), as a means to understand how to optimize brain function and structure across the lifespan. I will present the development of Memoro, our web-based cognitive testing tool building on a combination of traditional neuropsychological tests and functional MRI based tests, as well as particularities related to web-based cognitive testing. Subsequently, impact of selected demographic and somatic factors on cognition, and the potential for intervention to preserve or optimize function will be illustrated. Lastly, I will present how an epidemiological approach to brain MRI can elucidate new relationships of disease risk and possibility of delaying brain atrophy.
Affiliations: Director of SFI Center for Innovative Ultrasound Solutions (CIUS); Professor, Dep of Neuroscience, NTNU; Head, Norwegian National Advisory Unit for fMRI, Dep Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, St. Olav's University Hospital; Medical Technical Research Center, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Trondheim, Norway; asta.haberg@ntnu.no; https://www.ntnu.no/ansatte/asta.haberg 

Minibiography: Asta Håberg received her MD from the University of Oslo and her PhD (dr. med.) from the NTNU in Trondheim. She has worked with animal models of human neurological disease, in healthy volunteers and patients (mainly traumatic brain injury, preterm birth, and ischemia) MRI and MRS to elucidate brain structural, metabolic and functional correlates and plasticity. The neuronal basis of memory and attention, and how best to maintain these abilities throughout life, is a particular focus area. This interest has led to development of methodology for large-scaled epidemiological studies on cognition in HUNT (Nord-Trøndelag health study) in order to understand the somatic, psychological, social and genetic basis of individual differences in cognition and their brain structural and functional underpinnings.

Tomas Björklund: "Taming viruses to map and repair the brain"
During development, our brain goes through an amazing process of making and destroying connections between nerve cells. What connections remain in adulthood determine how we function. When those connections falter, disease ensues, revealing their importance. To date, the studies on brain connectivity have been limited to either crude assessment on the multi-millimeter scale of the entire human brain using brain imaging techniques or using labor intensive electron-microscopy techniques mapping each connection one by one. The goal of our research is to develop a novel technology that could fill the gap, so that we can understand how complete circuits in the brain function and connect before we have the entire map of the brain completed. To reach this goal we have chosen to develop synthetic viruses and utilize the genetic code as address labels. These viruses can infect nerve cells at their connectivity points (the synapses) and transport the information in their genome to the connected nerve cell bodies, where we then can map this information using modern sequencing techniques. In the end, this technology would help us to understand what goes wrong in the brain in complex disorders such as Parkinson's disease and Schizophrenia. The newly developed viruses could also help us to develop new treatments as they could target specific connections in the brain, leaving the rest untouched. 

Affiliation: Group leader, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Molecular Neuromodulation, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; tomas.bjorklund@med.lu.se; http://www.med.lu.se/expmed/molecular_neuromodulation

Minibiography: Tomas Björklund obtained his training at Lund University, Sweden, where he completed his PhD in neuroscience in 2009. After a post-doctoral fellowship, he received an Assistant Professor position in 2011, when he established his research group, Molecular Neuromodulation. His research is at the union of neuroscience, molecular biology and bioinformatics, where a major goal is to develop and utilize frontline technologies to answer long-standing questions in brain function and connectivity, including in Parkinson's disease. He has founded a biotech company, Genepod Therapeutics, which is furthering his gene-based therapy for Parkinson's disease towards clinical trials. 

Organizers: Linda H Bergersen and Jon Storm-Mathisen in cooperation with the University of Oslo, the Nansen Neuroscience Network (NNN), and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA).

* Nansen as neuroscientist: see notes at http://www.dnva.no/kalender/vis.html?tid=48780