Lead Agency Grant for Andreas Thum

Andreas Thum – in cooperation with Dorit Merhof from the University of Aachen and Katja Bühler from the Centre for Virtual Reality and Visualization (VRVis) in Vienna – has received a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) in the amount of about 1.1 Million Euro. Their joined approach aims at establishing a 4D reconstruction of the entire larval brain (about 10.000 neurons). The project will be realized by their synergistic expertise in the field of neuroscience and informatics. Andreas Thum´s lab will provide biological data on small groups of larval brain neurons using confocal microscopy. Dorit Merhof´s lab will register these neurons based on its anatomical information onto a newly established standard brain. And Katja Bühler´s lab will process, organize and visualize the processed data in an open access database. In addition, the labs of B. Dickson and J. Truman, both located at the HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus (USA) will support the endeavor by offering access to the world-wide largest set of genetic tools and anatomical raw data on larval brain anatomy. Andreas Thum summarizes the importance of their study: “Beside reconstructing the larval brain in 4D on the neuronal level, our approach will also define a new set of annotated (in an open access database) and freely accessible neurogenetic tools to investigate the particular function of single neurons within an entire brain. By that – for the first time – it will be possible to establish in Europe a common resource base that offers support for the worldwide rapidly growing neurobiology community working on the Drosophila larva.” The project starts in April 2015 and has a duration of 3 years.