The Department of Biomedicine

New Horizon 2020 “European Training Network” at the Department of Biomedicine

How is visual information processed in the retina? Over the next three years, this questions will define the projects for 15 PhD candidates in the EU network SwitchBoard.

Meg Veruki

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The research network SwitchBoard, with the University of Bergen as a partner, has been awarded a total of 3.5 million Euros from the European Union’s eighth framework programme, Horizon 2020. The EU grant will fund salaries, travel and meetings for 15 PhD candidates.

 Professors Meg Veruki and Espen Hartveit from the Neural Networks Research Group at the Department of Biomedicine are the UiB partners in the network which will be launched on 1 November 2015. This multi-partner training network consists of 7 academic partners, 1 non-profit research organization, and 3 private-sector partners with research groups from 8 countries (UK, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, Germany and Norway). The network is coordinated by the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

 European Training Network

The title of the project is: “In the eye of the observer: Visual processing at the heart of the retina”. The focus of the project is on signal processing and synaptic transmission of visual information in the retina. Within the retina, visual information is processed in parallel by approximately 10 different types of bipolar cells and 20 different types of ganglion cells, along with inhibitory interneurons called amacrine cells to form feature-extracting microcircuits.

  The PhD student affiliated with UiB will focus his or her research on the morphological and computational properties of cone bipolar cells using a combination of multi-photon imaging and patch-clamp electrophysiology.

 The successfully funded network is a European Training Network (ETN) financed through the Horizon2020’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action programme (see right margin). ETN is a joint research project involving at least three partners from in and outside academia where the intention is to train young researchers in working in different sectors, and to develop their transferable skills by working on joint research projects.

 Visual processing in the retina

SwitchBoard will provide an international, interdisciplinary platform to educate 15 young scientists at the interface of neurobiology, information processing and neurotechnology.  The research focus will be visual processing in the retina including experimental neuroscience, vision research in health and disease, theoretical and computational neuroscience, neurotechnology and neuron-hardware interfaces, and opto-electronic engineering. Their research goal is to decipher the retinal microcircuits that perform the first critical steps of vision. One of the annual meetings and a summer school for the network will take place in Bergen in the summer of 2017. A collaborative exhibit with VilVite (Bergen Science Centre) is also planned as one of the outreach activities.


(This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 674901.)