“The opportunities that Max Planck offers – without the pressure of having to constantly write research applications or teach too much – and the ideals for which Max Planck stands, were very attractive,” says Sam Young. “I was already very familiar with the Max Planck ecosystem from Göttingen, and the new institute gave me the opportunity to continue working within the Max Planck family.”
Using the tools that he developed himself, Young embarked on the task of further unraveling the precision engineering of synaptic signal transduction. His viral gene shuttles allow him to genetically manipulate neurons; his innovative surgical methods and the patch clamp technique help him to take precise measurements. He wants to use these methods and tools to examine a number of other issues in greater detail: how the vesicles and neurotransmitters become functional, what role selected proteins play in this process, and how the pre-synaptic calcium channels are arranged at the active zone. “We have to perform both quantitative measurements and molecular manipulations, as this is the only way we can develop accurate models of how synapses function,” says the researcher.
He is also working with Florida Atlantic University to develop a graduate program in neurosciences there, and has already organized a neuroscience symposium at which the graduate program was launched. “We can establish something special here,” he says cheerfully. This writer is convinced that the program will be a success. Sam Young has the determination to make it one.
A group of viruses that can infect human and animal cells. They find their way into the cell interior in membranebound sacs. Adenoviruses don’t have a viral envelope and are highly resistant. Scientists often use them to insert genes into somatic cells. In humans, naturally occurring adenoviruses can cause infections such as respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.
Channel-shaped proteins in the cell membranes through which electrically charged particles such as sodium, calcium or chloride ions can flow in or out. Various triggers can change the physical structure of the protein, with the result that the channel becomes permeable or blocked. These include electrical and mechanical stress, binding partners and light. Ion channels are crucial in determining the electrical properties of a cell.
Viral gene therapy
Viral gene therapy is used to cure genetic diseases. The viruses are used as vehicles to insert a functioning version of the defective gene in certain cells. The genetically modified viruses can infect cells but cannot multiply further.