25.11.22 Medartis

We are very grateful to have been able to welcome Prof. Dr. Johannes Bohacek as the speaker of the fifth MedTalk, held on the 25th of November. Johannes Bohacek is an assistant professor at ETH Zurich and runs the lab of Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, as well as being the recipient of the golden owl for the HEST Department. It was a privilege to learn about his research into the stress response in the multi-omic era and to get real and tangible insights into what it entails to conduct fundamental research nowadays and in the future.

The talk focused mainly on his research into acute stress response since acute stress is the building block of chronic stress which in turn is a major determinant of physical and mental well-being. Acute stress can also trigger neuropsychiatric disease, for example, post-traumatic-stress-disorder. The work done by him and his team looks into the changes as a response to stress on a behavioral level (Behavi-omics), a network level, meaning the brain, especially the Locus Coeruleus, and on a molecular level (Multiomic Profiling). Nonetheless, the approach is to look at the system as a whole, especially on the level of the brain-networks. A response to an acutely stressful situation is formed via three systems. The first one to be activated is the Locus Coeruleus, a small brainstem nucleus, which produces and releases Noradrenaline. The second is the sympathetic nervous system, providing noradrenaline to the organs through nerve fibers and via the bloodstream. Thirdly the HPA-Axis (Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) releases cortisol, provides longer sources of energy, and can also shut down the stress response to ensure an appropriate response. Furthermore, the importance of big data in the future was highlighted and illustrated by the example of the use of AI to better determine and evaluate the behavior of the tested rodents. Additionally, many outstanding questions were asked, giving rise to interesting and captivating discussions.

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