Roche headquarters in Basel opened their doors to 30 PhD students from various institutes, who came together on 4-5 October 2018, to present to each other their projects in talks and posters. At the same time they obtained insight into the activities of this large pharmaceutical company.
The first day of the retreat – mainly a “Roche-day” – included several talks by senior scientists of the company and introduced some of the current participants of the RiSE Program (Roche Internships for Scientific Exchange). In the later afternoon, the ZNZ students split up in small working groups and elaborated on challenging questions like:
- How close are we to developing a major disease-modifying treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s?
- Translation of animal models of brain disease to humans: What is state of the art and future perspective?
- Degeneracy or redundancy? Are our current methods able to distinguish the real content of the neural signals?
- Reconnecting neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence: what can we actually learn from the brain?
On the second day, the group started out with a breakfast on top of Building 1 designed by Herzog & de Meuron with a great view over the whole city of Basel. In well-prepared short talks and an intensive poster session, the students introduced their own research projects to each other – an experience involving a large diversity of research questions, methods and disciplines, all ordered around understanding the brain and its diseases. Prof. Peter Scheiffele concluded the retreat with a very stimulating plenary talk spanning an arch from exploring synaptic function to new concepts of understanding, and possibly treating autism.