Dear Theo Karayannis, congratulations on your new position as UZH Director of the Master in Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences at UZH and ETH. We would like to ask you a few questions about your career, background, your plans for the master program – and what you like, especially about Zurich.
Name and Surname: Theofanis Karayannis
Institute: Brain Research Institute, UZH
What is your scientific background, and what’s your recent research about?
I studied Pharmacy for my undergraduate degree, followed by an MSc and PhD in Neuroscience. My current research focuses on the development of sensory processing and sensorimotor transitions after birth. How do mammals develop a perception of the external world and learn to interact with it in a complex manner?
What things would you like to improve in the Program?
Myself and the rest of the IDB team would like to improve the coherence of the program. As it is extensive in scope, we aim to make it easier for the students to have a mental red thread that guides them through the various subjects covered in the curriculum. Ultimately, we would like to make it more interactive, going beyond the traditional classroom setting.
What are the biggest challenges you will face?
As its name indicates, the scope of the IDB Master’s Program is very interdisciplinary, ranging from molecular to circuit and systems, reaching to clinical aspects of neuroscience. For a program, one of the main goals of which is learning practical skills, with three short lab rotations and one 6-month long master’s thesis, it is challenging to provide enough theoretical background in a short amount of time.
What motivates you to face these challenges?
First, I am excited to co-direct such a solid interdisciplinary and cross-institutional Program. Neuroscience in Zurich is excellent, hosting a strong and broad research theme. I am motivated to showcase and use the community’s strength to arm the IDB students with a solid theoretical background and good practical skills by the end of their studies. Ultimately, I aim to inspire the students about the wonderful field of neuroscience, whatever the path they choose to follow after their studies may be.
Last but not least, since this newsletter is a lot about food: What’s your favorite restaurant?
I am a fan of international food and try to sample diverse dishes from around the world whenever I get the chance. As Zurich hosts a varied restaurant scene, rather than picking one place, I would go with Asian food as a whole, which is almost as diverse as our IDB Program… 🙂
Brain Research Institute, Laboratory of Neural Circuit Assembly
Link to the IDB Master Program
Title Image: Logo of Master Program IDB