From now on, the Bernstein Center Freiburg with its offices at Hansastrasse 9A will become the central facility for coordinating research in the areas of computational neuroscience and neurotechnology in Freiburg. It will combine experimental and theoretical neurosciences and their applications in computer science, microsystems technology, and clinical use into a large, multidisciplinary research hub. This will facilitate scientific exchange and networking between the Freiburg researchers as well as enhancing their options for joint outward operation.
What are the theoretical foundations of brain function? And how can this knowledge be applied, for example in the development of prostheses and interfaces that directly connect to the nervous system? For years, scientists at the University of Freiburg have concentrated on finding answers to these questions. The foundation of the Bernstein Center Freiburg as one of the university's central scientific facilities now provides a platform to consolidate this branch of research in Freiburg.
Furthermore, the centre also allows the growth and implementation of new teaching and training initiatives; e.g. the multidisciplinary international PhD and Postdoc programmes in computational neuroscience, and the tri-national Joint Master in Neuroscience programme, based in Freiburg, Strasbourg and Basel and organised by the tri-national network Neurex.
Computational neuroscience and neurotechnology in Freiburg have succeeded in obtaining a remarkable amount of third-party funding, totalling almost 20 million euros and enabling several new professorships to be established at the University. The transfer of university-based fundamental research to biomedical and technological applications is guaranteed through the strong integration of industrial partners in several of the projects.
"The University of Freiburg is now taking the next step and has decided to put this concentration of scientific know-how and common goals on a more secure footing for the future," says Professor Ad Aertsen, coordinator of the newly founded centre. "We are creating a research cluster in Freiburg that is unique in Germany." Research initiatives within the BMBF-funded Bernstein Network have already made a name for themselves in computational neuroscience and neurotechnology, both nationally and internationally. For this reason, the newly founded centre will be named after the pioneering German neurobiologist Julius Bernstein.
The scientific field is characterised by its interdisciplinarity, spanning a range from the mathematically formulated foundations of the functionality and dynamics of neuronal networks, through neuroanatomy and -physiology, up to the development of clinical applications. This wide range means that research is out over nine faculties, institutes and central research facilities of the university.
The Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN Freiburg) and the Bernstein Focus Neurotechnology Freiburg-Tübingen (BFNT F*T) have already moved towards a common direction in research. Both are multiannual joint research projects consisting of more than a dozen individual projects, and part of the National Bernstein Network funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Through the foundation of the Bernstein Center Freiburg, the University of Freiburg secures and will even be able to expand its cutting-edge position in this innovative and dynamic field of research.