Congratulations to our 2023 fellows and prize winners

Throughout the year, FMI researchers secure competitive grants and fellowships, underscoring the caliber and promise of their work. In this overview, we present FMI postdocs and PhD candidate who have been recipients of fellowships, grants, and awards in 2023 that will provide support for their ongoing research projects and future career aspirations.

JOHANNES KAPPEL - EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship
( EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships support young scientists who have demonstrated excellence in their fields throughout Europe and the world for a period of up to two years).

Born in Germany, Johannes did his Master’s thesis in Systems Neuroscience at NYU, New York, USA, and his PhD in Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence in Martinsried, Germany. He joined the Friedrich group in July 2023.

Johannes is investigating how the recurrent synaptic connectivity of neurons in the larval zebrafish forebrain enables dynamic representations of physical space that are essential for navigation. For this, he is reconstructing the nanoscale structure of all neurons in the circuit using volume electron microscopy and integrating the wiring information with functional activity data acquired from the same neurons.

ADI KOL - EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship

Adi was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and holds a PhD in computational neuroscience from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. She became a postdoc in the Luthi lab in October 2023.

Adi is studying how inter-regional communication between subcortical and cortical regions in the brain underlies core cognitive functions such as learning and adaptive updating processes. To do so, she is integrating advanced electrophysiological and imaging techniques to gain access to activity from large neuronal populations at single-cell resolution from multiple regions, simultaneously, during behavior. This comprehensive investigation will drive considerable progress in our current understanding of how learning is encoded and computed by the brain.

ZUZANNA KOZICKA - SNF postdoc mobility grant ; European Federation for Medical Chemistry-Young Scientists Network PhD Prize ; included in Forbes’ Science & Healthcare "30 Under 30" Europe list ; Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

Zuzanna grew up in Kraków, Poland, and joined the group of Nicolas Thomä in 2018 for her PhD, which she completed at the end of 2022. She is now a postdoc at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, USA.

Zuzanna received several awards throughout 2023 for her PhD work on molecular glue degraders, small molecules that act as matchmakers between a target protein and the cell’s disposal machinery.

’ "Spotlight on FMIers" about Zuzanna
’ Article about her winning the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

AGATA MISIASZEK - EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship

Agata is originally from Poland and obtained her PhD in structural biology from EMBL Heidelberg, Germany. She joined the Chao group in May 2023 to learn live-cell single-molecule techniques.

In her project, Agata focuses on translation initiation factors and how they regulate a specific class of mRNAs with a 5-TOP motif, which encode ribosomal proteins. To this end, Agata is developing new methods to observe single mRNAs over long periods of time and examine single proteins that associate with them. This study aims to uncover the regulation of protein translation which is crucial for understanding how cells react to stress, and how translation misregulation can lead to certain neurodevelopmental diseases.

KONSTANTINOS NTITSIAS - Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds PhD Fellowship
( Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds PhD Fellowship support outstanding junior scientists worldwide who wish to pursue an ambitious PhD project in basic biomedical research in an internationally leading laboratory, for 2 to 3.5 years.)

Konstantinos is a Greek-Hungarian PhD candidate who joined the Lüthi lab in January 2023. Before moving to Basel, he obtained a Master’s from the Center for Regenerative Therapies of Dresden (CRTD), Germany.

Animals accumulate knowledge from past experiences in the form of memories to face day-to-day challenges. The prevailing theory of memory postulates that these traces are encoded by neurons called "engram" cells whose plasticity adapt upon learning to store information in a retrievable manner. Focusing on the amygdala, a small structure in the brain where affective memories are stored, Konstantinos aims to understand the relationship between neuronal responses and signaling pathway dynamics that lead to the recruitment of neurons to the engram cell population of emotional memories.

ANA PETRACOVICI - EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship

Ana grew up in Illinois in the US, and got her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She joined the Schübeler lab as a postdoc in March 2023.

In her research, Ana is investigating how SIN3A-HDAC, an essential protein complex that removes acetylation groups from histones, regulates gene expression and is recruited to chromatin by different cofactors. Ultimately, she hopes to shed light on the mechanisms by which chromatin modifiers, which themselves often lack sequence specificity, are directed to their target sites for precise gene regulation.

ANDRAS SZÖNYI - University of Basel Research Fund Junior Researchers
( University of Basel Research Fund Junior Researchers are aimed at junior researchers at the University of Basel who wish to pursue an academic career and who have already distinguished themselves through their outstanding achievements).

Andras completed his PhD in Neurosciences at the Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary and joined the Lüthi group in 2019. He received an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2021.

In his postdoctoral project, Andras is using 2P calcium imaging to record the cellular and transcriptional activity of basolateral amygdala neurons in awake mice during fear learning, followed by the identification of the recorded neurons. The expression pattern of different molecules related to the activity of the identified neurons will be characterized using quantitative anatomical methods. His research will bring us closer to the mechanistic understanding of how the basolateral amygdala neurons encode emotion-related memories.