Engineering molecular sensors for noninvasive brain imaging

Advisor: Robert Ohlendorf

Location: Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Mammalian brain function depends on the communication of various cell types and tissues via signaling molecules such as neurotransmitters. Currently there is lack of technologies that can measure brain-wide molecular signaling with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution in living mammals, which poses a major roadblock for understanding brain function and dysfunction in disease states.

Our lab develops technologies that apply functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other hemodynamic imaging methods to visualize these brain-wide molecular signaling processes in space and time and reveal how they shape healthy and pathological brain function.

The project aims at developing a new generation of genetically-encoded probes that convert intra- and extracellular molecular signals into hemodynamic imaging contrast and applying them for brain imaging in rodents. The work involves molecular cloning, protein engineering, cell assays and potentially in vivo brain recordings using fMRI, ultrasound or optical approaches as well as data analysis using Matlab or Python.

Our mission is to build a supportive and inclusive environment and we highly value scientific curiosity and motivation. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of our research, the lab culture encourages researchers with different backgrounds to collaborate and develop their skills to bridge molecular, cellular and organismal levels. You can find out more about our work in our webpage.

More information about the research of Robert Ohlendord and a selection of recent publications can be found on his faculty page.

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