The major aim in the next 5 years is to maintain and consolidate our current general structure. Given the dual exploration of purines and on the other hand cannabinoids and brain metabolism, we anticipate a natural splitting into two fully independent groups: ‘Purines at CNC’ (lead by RA Cunha) and ‘Neuromodulation and Metabolism’ (lead by A Köfalvi). In line with the ENI-Net goals, an emergent group is under constitution led by RJ Rodrigues focusing on the particular impact of modulation systems during brain development under the rationale that developmental features are recapitulated to form aberrant connections as a frustrated attempt to recover decreased function of neuronal circuits upon brain diseases.
Personal: In spite of the depth of the economical crisis and the anecdotic new EU pseudo-scientific funding schemes, we hope to be able to maintain a core of resident researchers, albeit this will require creativity to secure funds for 5 years positions. Some of these positions will hopefully be filled by current post-doctoral fellows, although any high quality candidate is always praised. High quality and motivated post-doctoral fellows and PhD students are expected to continue to be attracted, based on the following premises: i) the group has a recognized worldwide leading position in its area; ii) the group is part of EU programs dedicated to training in Neuroscience (ERC, Eni-Net); iii) the group has built a solid Portuguese-Brazilian network over the years (with 7 ex-members now holding professor positions in Brazil), who forward PhD and post-doctoral fellows paid by the Brazilian government; iv) the group members teach in 3 different courses at Univ. Coimbra, providing a first hand choice of outstanding candidates. The major limitation is the hiring of technicians. The only one linked to the group is paid by projects and it is not foreseen that CNC will provide any support. Again, creative ways are required to maintain this key element and to recruit at least 2 more technicians.
Internal organization: given that: i) we have created a core of competences on synaptic preparations and electrophysiological and behavioral approaches, ii) we have implemented different animal models of brain diseases, iii) we focus on purinergic neuromodulation systems transversal to virtually all tissues, it is expected that we will increasingly collaborate within CNC-IBILI, as detailed below in the scientific objectives. This aim is further bolstered by the hiring at CNC of some promising young PIs with unique set of competences.
Collaborative organization: the expected shrinkage of national funds will bolster the pressure to collaborate with European, US and Brazilian colleagues to smooth access to alternative funds in the next years. This will be done by networking with former Brazilian student now holding permanent positions in Brazil together with the powerful Brazilian coffee industry, as well as with French colleagues, taking advantage of the massive injection of funds in the French scientific system; these collaborations also bring to the group different facilities and expertise, namely: long term behavior and in vivo pharmacological studies in large groups of animals (G Matos, UFC; RD Prediger & MP Kaster, UFSC; P Pandolfo, UFN), continuous video monitoring of behavior (C Bernard, Univ.Mediterrannée, France), cell culture assays for neuronal migration (C Metin, Inst.Fil Fer, Paris, France), single receptor molecule imaging (S Lévy, Univ.Paris, France). Finally, we will strengthen and hopefully expand our network of collaborations in the US (JF Chen, Boston Univ.; KA Goosens, MIT; D Boison, Legacy Foundation; DS Choi, Mayo Clinics; JD Geiger, Univ. North Dakota) for similar reasons.