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Decoding the organization and regeneration of locomotor neuronal networks in tetrapods by integrating genomics, systems neuroscience, numerical modeling, and biorobotics

Objective

The goals of this project are to decipher how the interplay between central and peripheral mechanisms controls locomotion in four legged animals (tetrapods) and to the delineate the reorganization of motor circuits linked to functional regeneration after spinal cord lesion. We will take advantage of the evolutionarily conserved traits of neural structures in vertebrates to address these two fundamental questions by using salamanders as model organisms. Salamanders are best suited to these aims for two main reasons: First, because they have an anatomically simplified nervous system, which yet possesses the main features of all tetrapods; second, because they have unique regeneration abilities among vertebrates and can functionally repair their spinal cord after full transection. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will investigate the dynamic interactions between the nervous system, the body, and its environment before and after spinal cord lesion. We will combine numerical models of locomotor neural circuits, robotics, and advanced functional analyses in genetically modified salamanders in a way that will allow us to test biological data in neuromechanical models (simulations and robots) and, conversely, to validate model-based predictions in animals. Through the concerted and tightly collaborative activities in our laboratories, implementing state of the art assays ranging from the molecular to the organism level, we expect to create a blueprint of tetrapod locomotion control: how appropriate movements are generated in response to various environmental or intrinsic stimuli, and how such function can be recovered after injury. The synergy between our groups of complementary expertise will boost scientific research at multiple levels, not only in the field of neuroscience but also in regeneration research, robotics, and numerical modeling.

Call for proposal

ERC-2020-SyG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SyG - Synergy grant

Host institution

ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
Address
Batiment Ce 3316 Station 1
1015 Lausanne
Switzerland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 2 993 585

Beneficiaries (3)

ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 2 993 585
Address
Batiment Ce 3316 Station 1
1015 Lausanne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
KAROLINSKA INSTITUTET
Sweden
EU contribution
€ 3 386 425
Address
Nobels Vag 5
17177 Stockholm
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSITE DE SHERBROOKE
Canada
EU contribution
€ 3 179 640
Address
Boulevard De L'universite 2500
J1K 2R1 Sherbrooke
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments