RUB Research School

Characterization of novel neuromelanin-associated pathways in synucleinopathies

The Research Project

Neuromelanin is a black-browinsh pigment, localized in so-called neuromelanin granules inside of the cell bodies of dopaminergic neurons in the human substantia nigra pars compacta. As the loss of these neurons is a primary hallmark in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, they are of great scientific interest. Nevertheless, only few is known about the synthesis of neuromelanin and the role and function of the, especially in neurodegenerative processes. The investigation of these questions is complicated by the fact, that common laboratory animals like mice and rats lack neuromelanin inside the substantia nigra pars compacta as well as most common cell culture models. Thus, finding suitable cell culture models is essential for further research in neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, I aim to in-depth characterize neuromelanin granules isolated from human post-mortem brain tissue using a variety of spectrometric and spectroscopic techniques. The obtained results shall be used to evaluate existing, neuromelanin-like pigments producing, cell culture models concerning their suitability for further research.

IRB Funded Activities

The Brain Conference: RNA mechanisms and Brain Disease, Rungstedgaard, Denmark (20 October to 23 October 2021)

My first ever conference visit was a special one. As I am working in the research field of proteomics, I would not have thought that I would attend a conference called "The Brain Conference: RNA mechanisms and Brain Disease". However, encouraged by the results of my first studies and the funding of the RUB Research School, I went on the trip to Denmark. In a great environment, I was able to meet young researchers from around the world, listen to talks from experts in the research fields covering the conference topic and discuss my own and other research projects. My gained experiences will definitely help me as a person and as a researcher and will be very beneficial for the progression of my PhD project.

European Summer School on „Advanced Proteomics", South Tirol, Italy (31 July to 6 August 2022)

The European Summer School on „Advanced Proteomics“ is a well-known event in the European proteomics research community, which offers early career researchers the opportunity to get in contact with colleagues from all over the world and to meet leading researchers. Therefore I was looking forward to attend this meeting since I started my PhD but due to the pandemic, this year was my first chance.
The summer school was organized in a monastery in South Tirol which proved to be the perfect location. During the week, there were plenty of opportunities to network with other PhD students, postdocs or PIs and broaden the own knowledge during workshops or lectures. All in all, the attendance of the summer school was a great experience which will definitely help me in my future scientific career.

AD/PD: International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases and related neurological disorders (March 23-April 1, 2023, Gothenburg, Sweden)

The in-person participation of an AD/PD conference has been on my personal agenda since the start of my doctoral thesis and my application for the International Realization Budget. In addition, it was the largest conference I attended so far, with more than 4,000 participants from 62 different countries worldwide!

With a strong focus on research regarding Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, it was a highly relevant conference visit for my own research project. I learned a lot during the various talks and met researchers from all over the world, opening up opportunities for future collaborations. Thus, I could expand my personal network and further improve my own expertise in the research area of neurodegenerative diseases.

In summary, the visit in Gothenburg will be extremely valuable for my future in the scientific community.