The objective of the EU-funded FLIACT (´Systems neuroscience of Drosophila: from genes to circuits to behaviour´) project, which is training researchers starting out in their careers in cutting-edge concepts and techniques. The FLIACT programme´s ultimate objective is to create a unique pan-European training network that interconnects eight academic partners and three SMEs specialised in complementary fields of research, from molecular and behavioural neurogenetics to electrophysiology, bioengineering and applied biomedicine.
In order to facilitate knowledge transfer across this network – and to achieve meaningful results – FLIACT is focusing on one model organism, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. During the last decades, the tiny fruit fly has become the main model system for studying how we perceive and integrate information arising from our five senses. Drosophila has also emerged as a powerful model for studying the genetic bases of neurodegenerative diseases that affect humans.
As Drosophila has a million times fewer neurons than humans, the study of its brain is expected to shed light on general principles underlying the functional organisation of neural circuits.
A major long-term benefit of this project will be the development of a fruit fly toolkit, which can be used to investigate the function of neural circuits in vivo and to scientifically test their functions. The project aims to provide the FLIACT neuroscientists with the necessary support to use these tools effectively.
In the short term, FLIACT fellows will seek – through collaborative and personalised research projects – to better understand how neural circuit computation controls behaviour and how circuit-function relationships are genetically encoded. In order to share best practice, the project will organise a series of interdisciplinary workshops on neurogenetics, neuroanatomy, neuroimaging, and behavioural analysis and transferable skills.
The project´s impact will also be maximised by opening all workshops and conferences to the European neuroscience community as a whole.