Harold MacGillavry received the prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). This grant allows young excellent researchers to make the transition to become an independent investigator.
With this ERC grant, Harold MacGillavry and his team will study how neuronal synapses are built at the sub-microscopic level. Synapses are the connections between nerve cells, where signals are transmitted from one cell to the other. Synapses are incredibly small, more than a hundred times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Synapses contain a high number of neurotransmitter receptors, the key players in neuronal signaling that receive and transmit the synaptic signals. The team will use innovative single-molecule microscopy technologies that allow the visualization of the movements of these receptors in individual, living synapses. Ultimately, the goal is to understand how the dynamic organization of synaptic receptors controls neuronal signaling. Insight in these process might lead to a better understanding of how brain diseases such as autism or schizophrenia develop.