Principal Investigator, Academy Professor
Eero received MD and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Eastern Finland. He was a postdoc at the National Institute of Mental Health (Bethesda, MD, USA; Juan Saavedra’s lab) and at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (Munich, Germany; Hans Thoenen’s lab). He started the Trophins lab at the A.I. Virtanen Institute at the University of Eastern Finland in 1995. In 2003, he joined the Neuroscience Center, at the University of Helsinki as Sigrid Jusélius professor and subsequently as the Director between 2013 and 2017, and currently as Academy Professor. His research has focused on the effects of BDNF in neuronal plasticity and on the role of BDNF-TrkB signaling in the antidepressant drug effects.
- Screening of lipid-induced TrkB activation and plasticity
- Molecular mechanisms of the interaction between TrkB and steroid hormones
- Investigation of the role of BDNF/TrkB in the early development of Huntington´s disease
I completed my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in biology and neuroscience in Italy at the University of Padua and the University of Trieste. I obtained my Ph.D. in 2018 from the University of Helsinki. During my doctoral studies, I investigated the molecular mechanisms of tau protein-mediated pathology in order to better understand the development and progression of different neurodegenerative diseases. I joined the Trophin Lab in 2019 to investigate the effect of different lipids and hormones on TrkB activation and their role in promoting neural plasticity. In parallel, I am interested in understanding the role of the BDNF/TrkB axis in the etiology of neurodegenerative disorders, in particular in Huntington's disease.
- Antidepressants influence neuro-circuits in the visual cortex and sensorial habituation.
- Optogenetically localized induction of neuroplasticity in awake behaving animals
- Effects of interneuron plasticity modulation on the social ability of rodents and correlative changes to the electrophysiological properties of rodent dmPFC area
My background is in psychology, having acquired my Bachelor in social science at Tel-Aviv University, and subsequently completed a Master's degree in Pisa University, specializing in educational psychology of learning disabilities. My fascination with the brain led me to pursue a career in brain research, starting in the Pablo Blinder lab at Tel-Aviv University, where I have acquired my specialization in awake in vivo imaging and behavioral experiments in combination with multi-photon microscopy.
- Antidepressant drug-induced plasticity in the brain
- Proteins and membrane lipid content underlying the action of slow- and rapid-acting antidepressant drugs
I obtained my B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Istanbul Technical University, Turkey, in 2013. During my bachelor studies, I also attended Umeå University in Sweden as part of the ERASMUS exchange program to study Molecular Biology for a year. Afterward, I moved to Finland to pursue my M.Sc. studies in Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Helsinki. I became a member of Prof. Eero Castén’s team for my Master's thesis project, and I am currently working in the same laboratory to obtain my Ph.D. degree. My research focuses on understanding changes in the protein coupling/uncoupling to the TRKB receptor complex induced by slow- and rapid-acting antidepressant drugs. For this purpose, I use a combination of biochemical and behavioral methods.
- Induction of visual cortex plasticity with pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions
- Role of a cholesterol-recognition motif (CARC) in the transmembrane region of TRKB in antidepressant-induced plasticity
I obtained my B.Sc. in Biology and my M.Sc. in Neuroscience at the University of Trieste (Italy). During the Master I was awarded an Erasmus+ Scholarship to study at the University of Helsinki (Finland) for one semester, followed by an Erasmus Traineeship to work on my thesis in the Trophins laboratory of Prof. Eero Castrén. During my traineeship, I focused on studying the induction of plasticity in the visual cortex of mice by antidepressants and was captivated by the topic. I am currently working in the Trophins lab to obtain my Ph.D., broadening my research on visual cortex plasticity induced by pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. I am also interested in understanding the role of a cholesterol-recognition motif identified in the transmembrane region of TRKB in drug-induced plasticity by using in vitro and in vivo methods, such as molecular biology and confocal imaging techniques, behavioral analyses, and optical imaging.
- Psychedelics and neuroplasticity: molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the long-term effects of LSD
- Induction of juvenile-like plasticity in the adult brain with fast-acting antidepressants
- Membrane compartmentalization and receptor clustering dynamics of TrkB
I studied Biochemistry at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) and graduated in Neuroscience at the University of Helsinki. I also developed research projects at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam (Netherlands), the University of Oulu (Finland), and the Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology in Marseille (France). My main scientific passion lies in exploring novel neuropharmacological strategies to treat psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, particularly those that involve neuronal plasticity and neurotrophic factors like BDNF and its receptor TrkB. With that purpose, I have focused my research on unveiling the mechanisms of action of drugs that trigger juvenile-like plasticity in the adult brain, like the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine and the rapid-acting antidepressant ketamine. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind the long-term effects of psychedelics.
- Optogenetic activation of neural plasticity
- Role of inhibitory neurons in network plasticity
- Behavioral flexibility in animal models (currently cocaine-induced reward-seeking behavior)
I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Parma with an internship project in cancer biology. In 2017 I obtained an international Master’s degree in Neuroscience at the University of Trieste. I spent the last year of my Master’s studies completing an internship here at the Trophin lab under Prof. Castrén’s and Dr. Umemori’s supervision, working on the assessment of an optogenetic system to control neural plasticity. After graduating, I came back a few months later to start my Ph.D. Although my academic interests wander from Autism to consciousness, at the moment my research activity focuses on using optogenetic plasticity to study the role of somatostatin inhibitory neurons in the control of neural network plasticity.
- Effects of environmental enrichment on transcriptional regulation of BDNF and Ntrk2
- Neurotrophins and neurotransmitter interaction in the antidepressant mechanism of action. Ntrk2 interaction with neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine
I completed my Bachelor in Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester in the UK in 2017. During my Bachelor I worked in the university's Phage lab, investigating the interaction between bacteriophages and bacterial vesicles. I started my Master's in Neuroscience at the University of Helsinki in 2018. I conducted practical training in the Medical Nutrition Physiology group studying the effects of short-chain fatty acids on the gut-brain axis, and I am now completing my Master’s thesis in the Trophin lab. For my Master’s thesis, I am investigating the effects of environmental enrichment on the transcriptional regulation of BDNF and Ntrk2. I am also passionate about Science Communication; I am an active member of The Science Basement ry, where I contribute to the podcast, help coordinate our social media, and was one of the organizers for the March for Science Helsinki 2019.
- Role of nitric oxide in TRKB signalling and plasticity
I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the University of Oulu in 2018. My major was animal physiology with plenty of biochemistry, genetics, and virology courses on the side. During the studies, I was involved in studying the effect of radiation on the expression of endogenous retroviruses. Later in 2018, I started my Master’s degree in Neuroscience at the University of Helsinki and began doing extra-curricular research in the Trophin lab the same autumn. For my Master’s thesis, I investigated the effect of antidepressant drugs and nitric oxide synthase inhibitors on the TRKB receptor nitration.
- Interaction of lipid compounds with TrkB and their effect on TrkB dimerization
I obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück, Germany, in 2019. During my Bachelor studies, I went on an exchange as part of an Erasmus+ placement to study psychology for one semester to the University of Helsinki. Since August 2019 I am studying in the Neuroscience and Physiology Master's Program at the University of Helsinki. During my Master's studies, I started a traineeship at the Trophin Lab and I am currently continuing my work at the lab in form of my Master's thesis. As part of my thesis work, I am researching the interaction of different lipid compounds with TrkB and the effects of these compounds on TrkB dimerization.
- Effect of TrkB activation to the transcriptional state of cortical neurons, primarily interneurons
- Analysis of transcriptional data and other large datasets
I started medical studies in 2017 at the University of Helsinki and I am now in the clinical phase of my studies. I joined the Trophin laboratory in 2018 and have been involved in several projects, which are all related to the transcriptional changes of neurons after pharmacological or optogenetic activation of TrkB. These results will help to understand how we could utilize existing psychiatric drugs better and find new targets for more specific treatment options.
Master's Student (Erasmus visiting student)
- Induction of visual cortex plasticity with antidepressants
I obtained a bachelor's degree in Biological sciences from the University of Turin in 2019. For my bachelor thesis, I was involved in the study of the adult neurogenesis of dopaminergic neurons in the olfactory bulb. Later in 2019, I started my Master's in Neuroscience at the University of Trieste and I am now working on my thesis at the Trophin lab as a visiting student.
Bachelor's Student (Erasmus visiting student)
- nNOS-derived TRKB nitration as a molecular brake of plasticity
I am studying Biomedical Sciences at the Hellenic University of Thessaloniki, Greece and I am currently conducting my internship as an Erasmus student at the Trophin laboratory. The ongoing project I participate in, involves understanding and demonstrating the inhibitory nature of nitration in BDNF-TRKB signaling.
Lab manager, Lab Technician
- Upkeep of several lab functions and ordering of supplies
- Familiarizing students in working safely in a lab environment
- Assisting in carrying out the experiments, translation of texts, basic scripts and any computer related problems
- Person responsible for the NC Virus room
Sulo got his Bachelor's in laboratory sciences at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. On the way to graduation, he did his internship in the Trophins lab and has decided to stick around ever since. His common functions include instructing new (and old) students in good laboratory practices and safety, performing several upkeep tasks in the lab, and (almost) single-handedly genotyping all the mice that are to be used in breeding and experiments. He is usually there to help when technical issues arise, be it a broken electrophoresis chamber, mistreated pipette, malfunctioning coffee machine, or a computer gone haywire.
- Research technician in the groups of Eero Castren, Claudio Rivera and Heikki Rauvala
- Takes care of the Neuronal Cell Culture Unit, which produces primary neurons for NC research groups as well as external research groups
- Maintains cell lines and introduces students and new employees to cell culturing (primary and mammalian cell lines) and to genotyping
I graduated as a laboratory technician in 1984 and have since worked in various laboratories. My work became more interesting when I came to the Institute of Biotechnology at the University with Heikki Rauvala's group in 1994. I automatically joined the Neuroscience Research Center in 2003 with Heikki Rauvala's group. During this time, I got to work with numerous different researchers, helping with dissertations. My experience is mainly with protein chemistry, cell culture, and antibody purification, orders, and ancillary laboratory work. Currently, I work with three different groups and manage NT’s Primary Cell Culture unit. I am also responsible for many general things at NT so if you need anything then get in touch.
- Network and gene expression analysis on pharmacological and optogenetically induced plasticity in mouse adult brain
- Single nuclei and epigenetic analysis on neural plasticity especially in interneurons
I obtained a Ph.D. (genetics) at the National Institute of Genetics (Japan) by studying behavioral genetics focusing on spontaneous locomotor activity. In the 1st postdoc in the same institute, I was studying genetics and epigenetics on mouse models of neurological disease. Then I was working at Fujita Health University (Japan) as a research associate, studying mouse models of psychiatric disease. Currently, I’m interested in the network and gene expression level of neural plasticity, and mainly use the optoTrkB system, which can optically induce neural plasticity in a temporal and spatial manner.
- Modulation of TRKB signaling by nitric oxide and its role in plasticity
- Involvement of TRKB dephosphorylation by PNN-PTPRS complex in plasticity restrain
I graduated in Biological Sciences at Federal University of Alfenas, Brazil; and got an MSc and Ph.D. degree at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, focusing on Neuropsychopharmacology. During my master's and Ph.D., I investigated the role of nitric oxide and TRKB signaling in behavioral models of stress. My interest in better understanding the connection between nitric oxide and TRKB signaling at the cellular and molecular level drove me to join the Trophin Lab as a post-doctoral researcher. Currently, I am working on understanding the molecular mechanisms restraining TRKB activation and neuronal plasticity, such as its dephosphorylation by PNN-PTPRS complex, and nitration. I am proactive towards actions aiming at making science more inclusive and accessible - I am a member of the Woman in Life Sciences organization and Co-Founding Editor at a free-to-read/free-to-publish Journal of Reproducibility in Neuroscience. I regularly contribute to the Kolibri Festival by organizing playful scientific workshops for children; I am passionate about the idea of science communication for children as I believe that, in the long run, it can be a powerful weapon to ensure critical thinking and well-informed choices.
- Mechanisms of drug-induced plasticity
- Transactivation of NTRK2 receptors by GPCR: AGTR1/2 and CB1
Plinio graduated in Pharmacy and Biochemistry, followed by a Master’s degree in Pharmacology from the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil, investigating the interaction between glucocorticoids and BDNF in models predictive of antidepressant effect. He obtained his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of São Paulo, studying the involvement of BDNF/NTRK2 in the panicolytic-like effect of antidepressant drugs. Following a visiting period when he investigated the interaction between cannabinoid receptor 1 and NTRK2, he joined the Trophin Lab in 2015, to investigate the mechanisms of remodeling the NTRK2-associated proteins by antidepressant drugs and the molecular mechanisms behind the drug-induced activation of NTRK2. PC offers a course about the process of scientific publication to Master and Ph.D. students, and he is also the Founding Editor of a scientific journal dedicated to publishing results of replication attempts in neuroscience.
- Neurotrophin and neurotransmitter interaction in antidepressant mechanism of action. Ntrk2 interaction with neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
- Effects of environmental enrichment on transcriptional regulation of BDNF and Ntrk2
I completed my Ph.D. at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki, studying Parkinson's disease using zebrafish as an animal model. During my post-doc, I got interested in translational neuroscience and joined the Trophin Lab. I am currently working on the interaction of neurotrophin with the transmitters and trying to understand their synergistic roles in neuronal plasticity. I am also interested in understanding how environmental interaction affects these systems at a molecular level.
- Plasticity induced by pharmacological interventions
- Genetically engineered juvenile-like plasticity in the adult brain
I did my Master’s research at the Russian Academy of Sciences and received my Master’s degree from St. Petersburg State University.
- Optogenetic activation of TrkB and downstream signalling pathways
I obtained a Bachelor’s of Science at the University of Amsterdam in 2018. Through being involved in research projects applying techniques such as EEG, I became increasingly interested in neuroscience. Since 2019, I am enrolled in the Neuropsychology research master’s program at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. I joined the Trophins lab as a visiting student in 2020, in order to work on my master’s thesis. My thesis project focuses on immunohistochemical analysis of Lentiviral and AAV optoTrkB in vivo.