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Project 36: Structural Basis of Brain Energy Metabolism

Suitable Majors

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Computer Science

Research Area


Internship Description

The other half of the brain, astrocytes, has been receiving particular attention lately, thanks to the discovery that their metabolic support to neurons is not simply limited to routine cellular metabolism, but it has a strong correlation with synaptic plasticity and memory formation (Suzuki et al., 2011). In our team, we are interested to investigate such feature from a structural point of view, by studying the distribution of glycogen, the primary source of lactate, specifically located in astrocytes, in relation to synapses and neuronal mitochondria. To this aim, we use state of art Serial Block-Face Electron microscopy, from which we segment and reconstruct in 3D neurons and astroyctes, and quantitatively analyze their spatial relationship using custom made tools, as well as virtual reality (Cali et al., 2016).  

Successful candidate will be expected to become familiar with brain electron micrographs, as well as software tools for segmentation, reconstruction, and analysis. He will enrich our database of reconstructed structures and possibly use them for quantitative analysis.
At the same time, candidates with a background in computer science and visual computing are welcomed, to build analysis tools that take advantage of Virtual Reality and 3D interaction.


Neuroscience, Electron Microscopy, Python and/or C Sharp programming


3D reconstructions, VR simulations, Ultrastructural analysis database

Other Comments

​Internship dates: 19 May to 26 July or 23 June to 29 August​


Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Faculty Name

Pierre Magistretti