Young Researchers Day 2019

November 20, 2019

9am - 18pm

Auditoire Maisin (LEW)

IoNS Young Researcher Day will give you the opportunity to hear the talk of Alban de Kerchove d’Exaerde (and maybe exchange a word or two with him over the drinks afterwards), to meet fellow young scientists from our institute and to learn about their work. Even if you are already an experienced postdoc, we encourage you to come meet your new colleagues and share with them some of your wisdom. We also remind PhD students that the participation in YRD can be used to get credits, and that a talk or a poster presentation will earn you an extra credit on top.

Keynote talk

Addiction elsewhere than in dopaminergic neurons

by Alban de Kerchove d’Exaerde
Lab of Neurophysiology, ULB Neuroscience Institute, Bruxelles


Motivational processes are under the critical influence of the ventral part of basal ganglia, comprising several interconnected nuclei (as striatum, globus pallidus and ventral tegmental area (VTA)). Addictive drugs increase extracellular DA levels in the ventral striatum, Nucleus Accumbens (NAc), and share this ability despite varied pharmacological properties and mechanisms of action. A major goal in the field of drug addiction has been to uncover the molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying addiction-associated neuroadaptations. It has been hypothesized that one such mechanism is the regulation of gene expression7, and there have been numerous studies that have documented altered expression of genes in the NAc.
We discovered that Maged1 (Melanoma antigen genes d1) has a mandatory role in behaviours related to drug addiction in BG. Mice lacking Maged1 are insensitive to the behavioural effects of cocaine as assessed by locomotor sensitization, conditioned place preference (CPP), and drug self-administration. Electrophysiological experiments in brain slices and conditional KO mice demonstrated that Maged1 is critical for cortico-accumbal neurotransmission. Further, expression of Maged1 in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, but not in dopaminergic or striatal neurons, is required for cocaine-induced extracellular DA release in the NAc as well as cocaine-mediated behavioural sensitization and acute cocaine effect respectively. This work identifies Maged1 as a critical molecule involved in cellular processes in BG and behavioural models of addiction.

You want to know more about Alban and his work? Have a look at this video where he introduces his research and talks about his scientific career.