Call for applications: 2010 ENSN Neuroschool (Oct 3rd-8th, Würzburg, Germany)

This announcement was sent along by Caitlin Connors on behalf of the European Neuroscience and Society Network

Oct 3rd-8th 2010
Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Würzburg, Germany

We are delighted to announce the third edition of our series of interdisciplinary Neuroschools. This year we will continue to explore the societal aspects of behavioural genetics, in particular genetic studies of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Behaviour and psychiatric conditions are currently assessed through a set of co-circulating methods including animal models, behaviour rating scales and biological markers, developed to identify pathology and in the effort to design improved therapeutic medications. Increasingly, behaviour is reduced to brain-based operations, instantiating a division between biology and culture, mechanism and context, brain and biography and marginalising a richer, inner-subjective and ethical complex of meaning, personal history and agency. However, mental illness is first and foremost a subjectively experienced condition, deeply rooted in culture and social dynamics.

We will address the following questions:

* How can complex behaviours be isolated and measured in the laboratory, especially using animal models?
* What are the intrinsic difficulties in defining the phenotypes to be investigated?
* What are the difficulties in including phenomenological aspects of mental illness into a genetics experiment and and how can we resolve those?
* What are the current tools available to measure genetic variation among individuals?
* What tensions between vital and social norms define what is considered to be ‘pathological’?

We invite applications from graduate students and early to mid-career research fellows in the disciplines of biology, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, psychology and history/philosophy of science for a one week long period in the laboratory to attend seminars, participate in laboratory ‘practicals’ and focus groups, and to present each other’s work.

The school aims to help participants delineate their shared, unresolved questions, think creatively about their work, start fruitful collaborations, and explore the many known and yet unknown interfaces between neuroscience and society. Students are selected on the basis of their outstanding academic achievements, their research interests and their aspirations to break through disciplinary barriers.

During the school participants are asked to suggest a bold and innovative, yet feasible, research project with societal relevance incorporating sound methodologies and a variety of expertise in the attempt to address timely and unresolved issues at the interface between neuroscience and society. The present faculty assesses projects on the basis of their justifiability, novelty and feasibility and the winning team is given the chance to perform the experiment in an ENSN host laboratory.

This year lectures and laboratory practicals will be hosted in the Department of Psychiatry at the Univesity of Wuerzburg headed by ENSN member Dr. Klaus-Peter Lesch.

Detailed programme and application forms can be found on our website.

For information about our previous schools and about the experience of our alumni, please visit:

Deadline for submission of applications is June 7th 2010. An ENSN evaluation committee will notify selected applicants by the end of June. Tuition as well as travel and accommodation expenses are entirely covered by ENSN funds.