Bertarelli Summer Research Fellowships for HMS Medical Students at the EPFL
Through the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation in Switzerland, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) will sponsor research fellowships for HMS medical students during the summer of 2013. The Bertarelli program was conceived with neuro-engineering and translational neuroscience in mind (such as neural prosthetics), but can be construed to include broad areas of molecular, cellular, systems and computational neuroscience. The program would thus be ideal for students interested in applied and basic neuroscience.
The EPFL is a dynamic, world-leading technical institute with tremendous strengths in broad areas applicable to the Bertarelli program, such as engineering, appliedphysics, chemistry, and neuroscience. HMS students will coordinate with EPFL faculty to work in particular EPFL labs during the summer. A list of participating EPFL faculty, along with descriptions of faculty research interests, can be found here.
The EPFL is located in Lausanne, Switzerland, a beautiful and historic city nestled among the Alps on the shores of Lake Geneva. HMS students will receive a stipend of $2500 per 4-week block (up to $7500 for the summer), plus round-trip travel expenses to Lausanne. The minimum duration of the fellowship is 8 weeks.  
To apply for a Bertarelli Summer Research Fellowhship at the EPFL, students should submit electronic copies of a resume, undergraduate and medical school grade transcripts, names and contact information for two references, and a two-page (maximum) statement describing previous research experience and current research interests relevant to the Bertarelli Foundation program to gail_townsend@hms.harvard.edu.  

View the 2011-12 Summer Fellows Archive
Bertarelli 2013–2014 EPFL Exchange Fellows
Through the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation in Switzerland, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has selected three students to perform their Masters research in Harvard Medical School labs over a nine-month period. The students are funded throughout their stay and bring an additional $15,000 research allowance to the lab. The Masters exchange program was conceived with neuro-engineering and translational neuroscience in mind (such as neural prosthetics), but can be construed to include broad areas of molecular, cellular, systems and computational neuroscience. The students will be engaged in research for at least 75% of their time while at Harvard Medical School, with the remaining time dedicated to other educational opportunities.

View the 2011-12 EPFL Fellows Archive
View the 2012-13 EPFL Fellows Archive
Vanessa Laversenne
Isabelle Dalle Fusine
Curriculum Vitae
Faculty Mentor: Bernardo L. Sabatini, M.D., Ph.D.
HMS Affiliated Institution and Department: Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School
Project Summary:
This study will focus on long-term depression (LTD), an important mechanism of synaptic plasticity that modifies synapses in response to neuronal activity and experience. Long-lasting changes in synapse function such LTD are involved in learning and memory and are thought to preclude the pruning of synapses during development. Recent findings indicate that proteins used by immune cells are active in the brain outside the context of neuroinflammatory processes or brain disorders. Caspase-3, an effector of the apoptotic signaling cascade, was recently found to be required for the expression of LTD in hippocampal cells without inducing apoptosis whereas C1q, an effector protein of the complement cascade, mediates the pruning of synapses during development. These studies suggest that LTD and synaptic pruning may be triggered by a local apoptotic-like signaling cascade in central neurons. In order to test this hypothesis I will monitor apoptosis initiation in synapses after LTD induction by visualizing extracellular phosphatidylserine (PS) exposure in dendritic spines of organotypic neuronal cultures using two-photon microscopy.
Olivia Gozel
Lionel Renaud
Curriculum Vitae
Faculty Mentor: Edwin M. Robertson, B.M., D.Phil.
HMS Affiliated Institution and Department: Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Project Title: “Biological Mechanisms of Interference Between Memory Systems”
Project Summary:
The aim of this project is to improve our understanding of the neural principles governing memory interference. Memory interference can provide insights into how different types of memory interact and are organized within the human brain. Interference between memories is also responsible for much of the forgetting we experience on a daily basis, and so a better understanding of interference may provide novel strategies to ameliorate forgetting and improve retention.
Here we will focus upon the interference caused by learning two different memory tasks in quick succession. When a motor skill and a declarative memory tasks are learnt in quick succession the subsequent motor skill recall is impaired. Based on previous work (BROWN/ROBERTSON, Off-line processing: reciprocal interactions between declarative and procedural memories, Journal of Neuroscience 26, 2007; COHEN/ROBERTSON, Preventing interference between different memory tasks, Nature Neuroscience 14, 2011), we hypothesize that this interaction involves the primary motor cortex (M1) and we propose to measure M1 connectivity. Using fMRI, we will investigate the resting-state functional connectivity of M1 after a motor skill learning task and compare how it is different depending on the presence of an interfering declarative memory task.
Understanding the biological basis of interference between different memoires will provide insights into how memories are organized, and perhaps provide the mechanistic insight necessary to prevent interference, a type of forgetting, and so improve knowledge retention.
David Perruchoud
Charles-Henri Vila
Curriculum Vitae
Faculty Mentor: Daniel B. Polley, Ph.D.
HMS Affiliated Institution and Department: Department of Otology and Laryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Project Summary:
The adult nervous system can recover limited function following stroke or injury. Here, the plan is to study how the central auditory pathways of an adult mouse gradually recover the ability to encode sound following near-complete degeneration of the auditory nerve. A sensory rehabilitation behavioral task for mice has been developed in the lab which improves the neural representation of acoustic stimuli. The use of optogenetic stimulation (or silencing) in the cortex of genetically engineered mice will allow to restrict the effects of laser stimulation on particular neuronal subtypes in the cortex. The idea is to couple laser stimulation of the cortex to the mouse's behavior as it is doing the task in the aim of understanding how it is affecting the neural response and possibly improving the therapy's outcome. The neural response will be studied using in-vivo neurophysiological recordings and data-analysis scripts.
This study will contribute towards a richer understanding of normal function, and contribute to develop therapies for remediating abnormal auditory signal processing following a history of compromised hearing or deafness in early life.
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