Frank Meye and Maeike Zijlmans both received a Starting Grant of 1,5 million euros from the European Research Council (ERC). ERC Starting Grants are awarded for pioneering research proposals and offer researchers the opportunity to build their own group.

Stress eating - Frank Meye

When coping with stress, humans and animals alike tend to increase their intake of tasty comfort food. In today’s society such stress eating can quickly become problematic. Particularly in individuals prone to develop obesity or eating disorders characterized by binge eating, the ravenous intake of large amounts of food in a short period of time. Despite the important contribution of stress eating to these serious medical conditions, the neurobiology underlying this behavior remains unclear.

The goal of this proposal is to understand (in a mouse model) both how stress causes specific neural circuit changes that drive consumption of comfort food, and to find ways to counteract this process. To this end, Frank Meye will use the latest approaches to unravel and manipulate neural network function, ranging from light-based control of neuron activity and electrophysiological recordings of neuronal communication.

Brain surgery in epilepsy - Maeike Zijlmans

Epilepsy surgery is the only curative treatment option for epilepsy and can halt the negative effect of epilepsy on cognitive development in children. It is complex and not always successful and therefore nowadays only applied if medication fails.

The goal of the project of Maeike Zijlmans is to recognize the core of epilepsy directly during surgery by using innovative recording and analysis methods of the high frequency electrical brain signal and to understand the effect on the healthy brain function. A simple method will lead to a higher success rate and thus more frequent usage and to a broader application, e.g. in people with brain tumours that would undergo otherwise unguided surgery to increase life expectancy, but often also suffer from seizures.