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Synaptic Dysfunction in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Project description

Mechanistic insight into mental disorders

Accumulating evidence indicates that mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia are characterised by dysfunctional connectivity in the brain. The aim of the EU-funded Syn2Psy project is to train early-stage researchers to address fundamental questions regarding neuropsychiatric disorders. The rationale is to investigate synaptic defects and design strategies that target specific neuronal circuits as a means of modulating the course of the disease. Researchers will develop new disease models to study the pathways that regulate synapse development and plasticity alongside potential therapeutic interventions. The industrial partners of the project will offer expertise in drug and technology development.


The large public health burden and individual suffering associated with mental disorders speaks to the need to study their biological underpinning. Genetic research, animal models of disease and human neuroimaging studies have provided convergent evidence to common pathways implicated in their aetiology, namely pathways that regulate synapse development and plasticity, which result in abnormal structural and functional connectivity in the brain of neuropsychiatric patients. The time has come to integrate studies across different levels, leading to the identification of signatures of illness associated to specific risk pathways, which can drive the development of novel therapies.

The objective of Syn2Psy is to provide high-level Ph.D. training for 14 early stage researchers (ESRs) to answer three critical questions: 1) What are the synaptic defects at the basis of neuropsychiatric disorders? 2) Which are the neuronal circuits that are disrupted, and may be targets for therapies? 3) How and when can we modulate the course of disease? Syn2Psy combines strong scientific with complementary know-how from the non-academic sector, and network-wide actions on scientific and complementary soft skills, to train a new generation of high achieving ESRs and provide them with the transferable skills necessary for thriving careers in a flourishing area. Industrial partners Lundbeck, Eurotrials and ZEISS provide experience on drug, clinical trials and technology development, the Coimbra University Hospital will expose the students to clinical research, while the clinic for child development PIN and the Marionet theatre company offer training in societal awareness and outreach. The excellent basic scientific knowledge and diverse skills acquired by ESRs will enhance their employment prospects in both the academic and non-academic sectors, and their scientific contributions will inform novel therapeutic approaches for alleviating this leading cause of disability worldwide.


Net EU contribution
€ 713 160,72
3004 517 Coimbra

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Continente Centro (PT) Região de Coimbra
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 713 160,72

Participants (5)

Partners (5)