Our New Bright Minds

We welcome the newest members to the ZNZ. With knowledge, experience and a curious mind, they will certainly contribute to new insights in neuroscience.

Dr. Elisa Donati
Institute of Neuroinformatics, ETH Zurich and University of Zurich

My research activities are at the interface of neuroscience and neuromorphic engineering. My main goal is to understand how to develop event-based systems able to interface with humans to process in real-time physiological data as inputs. In particular, I am focusing on biomedical applications where the device should be implanted to restore missing biological functions, (e.g., adaptive pacemakers, biomedical devices for neuroprosthetics). In addition, I am exploring the peripheral nervous system to understand how to apply physiological models to robotic control, to build a fully event-based pipeline.
Find out more about Elisa Donatis work and her publication record.

Dr. med. Dr. sc. nat. Tobias Weiss
Department of Neurology, University Hospital and University of Zurich

Malignant brain tumors are devastating diseases with a poor prognosis and an urgent need for better therapies. We are developing novel therapeutic approaches against primary brain tumors and brain metastasis, with a focus on novel cancer immunotherapies. For this, we use state-of-the-art disease models including cell lines, orthotopic fully immunocompetent mouse models and patient samples. In collaboration with groups at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, we apply cutting-edge methods in genomics, proteomics and imaging to gain a deep mechanistic understanding of these diseases.
Find out more about Tobias Weiss’ work and his publication record.

PD Dr. Marta Roccio
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Zurich

Specialized sensory cells located in the inner ear translate with remarkable speed and accuracy sound-induced vibrations of different loudness and pitch into chemical signals that can be interpreted by the brain as sound. Loss or damage of these sensory cells results in permanent hearing loss as the human inner ear cannot repair itself after damage. The long-term goal of our research is to develop novel therapeutic strategies to counteract sensorineural hearing loss by uncovering fundamental biological principles that underlie development and disease. We are making use of in vitro models known as “inner ear organoids”, derived from directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) to gain insight into inner ear sensory organ development and use them as unique tools to model disease. In addition, we exploit cochlear organoids culture from inner ear progenitors to probe tissue regenerative potential.
Find out more about Marta Roccios work and her publication record.

PD Dr. Jae Hoon Sim
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Zurich

We have performed both basic science and clinical research on middle-ear mechanics and middle-ear surgeries. The research on the middle-ear mechanics has been focused on anatomical characteristics in mammals, and sound transmission through the middle ear.  Research on middle-ear surgeries explores stability and reliability of middle-ear implants, assessment of expected surgical outcomes, optimization of prostheses and surgical conditions for the best performance, and surgical flexibility under anatomical variation across subjects.
Our team has established and used novel and unique techniques, which include 1) measurements of quasi-static and vibrational motions of the middle-ear ossicular chain and protheses in 3D space, 2) micro-imaging of the middle-ear structures, and 3) development of comprehensive biomechanical models of the intact and surgically-reconstructed middle ear.
Find out more about Jae Hoon Sims work and publication record.

PD. Dr. Michael L. Meier
Integrative Spinal Research Group, Department of Chiropractic Medicine, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich

People move differently in the presence of (or in anticipation of) pain. Changes in motor control may play an important role in musculoskeletal pain. In our laboratory, we use an interdisciplinary approach that combines neuroscience and movement biomechanics research to provide new insights into the role of possible interactions between motor control and psychological factors in the development and maintenance of low back pain. The methodological basis includes the assessment of psychological factors, biomechanical assessments of movement during functional activities based on high-resolution optical motion capture and musculoskeletal modeling, and generation of cortical topographic maps of paraspinal afferent input using functional magnetic resonance imaging . Ultimately, this cross-disciplinary approach might lead to a better understanding of low back pain with the potential to translate into clinical research for better treatment options.
Find out more about Michael L. Meiers work and publication record.