MPFI Neuroimaging Techniques course: Learning to visualize the brain in a whole new way

February 2018

MPFI recruits visionaries in science to train talented, up-and-coming young investigators and students in the modern optical techniques used to study the brain.


From February 02-14, a tangible energy and excitement filled the air of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI). A hustle and bustle of students and scientists from around the world can be seen hurrying between hands-on laboratory sections, special lectures by Nobel laureates, and even workshops detailing the design and construction of advanced microscopes. Now in its third year, the 2018 MPFI Neuroimaging Techniques course is designed to give early career neuroscientists and student trainees a comprehensive crash course in both the principles of modern imaging used in every day neuroscience research and the cutting-edge applications that are revolutionizing the way the brain can be studied.

Conceived by MPFI’s Scientific Director Dr. Ryohei Yasuda in collaboration with UCSC’s Dr. Yi Zuo, the Neuroimaging course provides trainees with a chance to learn microscopy from the basics to the daring. Course attendees build a strong foundation in modern optics attending instructional lectures by world renown experts, practicing principles through interactive projects utilizing modern brain imaging techniques, and integrating skills learned through collaborative discussions with distinguished scientists.

Promising applicants selected for the program have the opportunity to learn state-of-the-art imaging techniques required to study the brain from a large scale circuit perspective, all the way down to the single molecule level. The ultimate goal of the course is to provide talented, up-and-coming neuroscientists with the knowledge and skills necessary to fast track results and discoveries across all specializations of brain related research.

“The Neuroimaging course at MPFI is a perfect complement for all members of the neuroscience community. Equally benefitting experienced researchers wanting to further advance and refine their knowledge of modern microscopy or those brand new to the field that want exposure to the variety and versatility of the imaging techniques that can bring dramatic advancements to neuroscience research.”
– Dr. Ryohei Yasuda, Scientific Director at MPFI

The 2018 course was particularly unique in that the roster of special lecturers included two Nobel Laureates as well as two distinguished neuroscientists recognized for their significant contributions to the field. Nobel Laureates, Drs. Stefan Hell (Inventor of STED) and Eric Betzig (Inventor of PALM), known as the fathers of super resolution nanoscopy, each gave riveting special lectures detailing the conception of the field and impactful possibilities just on the horizon. In addition to the presence of Nobel laureates, two outstanding neuroscientists also participated. Dr. Viviana Gradinaru, winner of the inaugural MPFI “Peter Gruss Young Investigator Award,” treated trainees to a discussion of her revolutionizing brain clearing technique called CLARITY as well as applications for light sheet microscopy. A Neuroimaging Course regular, Dr. Jeff Lichtman of Harvard University known for his ambitious brain circuitry connectome project, established the fundamentals of optics and imaging in his four-part lecture series.

The Neuroimaging course is a representation of MPFI’s founding principle to spread scientific collaboration, excellence, and expertise in order to push the field of neuroscience further into the future; expediting the basic science required for tomorrow’s cures.

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