March 24, 2020

Research group of Andreas Lüthi receives Swiss Brain League Research Prize 2020

This year, the biennial Swiss Brain League Research Prize, which is endowed with 20,000 CHF, is awarded to the research group of Andreas Lüthi from the FMI and Jan Gründemann. The researchers have investigated how "internal states" such as anxiety, stress, hunger or thirst are coded in the brain of active mice. In the long term, their results may help to better treat diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Internal states determine our behavior. If we have not eaten for a while, we are in a bad mood; if we are afraid, we are more passive and withdraw. How such internal states correlate with our behaviors has been studied in detail. However, little is known about how the brain encodes and controls internal states.

The research group led by Andreas Lüthi (first author of the study Jan Gründemann, now a group leader at the Department of Biomedicine of the University of Basel, used to be a SNF Ambizione Fellow in the Lüthi group) has investigated how these internal states are coded in the brain: Which groups of nerve cells in the amygdala – the brain's "fear center" – are activated when anxious behaviors occur? And how does this activity change when behaviors changes? For the first time, using a new miniaturized microscope imaging technique, the researchers were able to describe patterns in the amygdala of active mice that depict their anxiety states.

For their remarkable study, the researchers were awarded the Swiss Brain League Research Prize 2020 endowed with 20,000 CHF. Their findings make an important contribution to understanding the brain and hold great potential for therapeutic interventions.

Publication related to this award:
Jan Gründemann*, Yael Bitterman*, Tingjia Lu, Sabine Krabbe, Benjamin F. Grewe, Mark J. Schnitzer & Andreas Lüthi (2019) Amygdala Ensembles Encode Behavioral States. Science, Vol. 364, Issue 6437, eaav8736
*these authors contributed equally.

FMI Jan Gründemann and Andreas Lüthi holding their check (before the rules of social distancing were put in place!)

FMI The Lüthi group (photo credit: Christian Lüscher)

Key links
» Swiss Brain League media release
» More about the study for which the Award was received


About the Swiss Brain League Research Prize
Every two years, the Swiss Brain League awards a prize of CHF 20,000 to a Swiss research group in recognition of its outstanding scientific contribution in the field of neurological research. Both clinical and basic research projects are eligible.
» Learn more