Parkinson's and SARS-COV2

Is Parkinson's Disease triggered and exacerbated by SARS-COV2 infection?

Research area to investigate

Recent data show that α-synuclein (α-syn), key player in Parkinson’s Disease (PD), is upregulated and modified as part of the brain antiviral immune responses. As such, the risk of viral infections triggering or contributing to PD is substantial. But, research on the role of viral infections on PD development is limited. SARS-COV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, has been shown to infect neurons and cause neuroinflammation. Given the globally high infection rate of this virus, SARS-COV-2 poses a significant threat of increasing the global burden of PD. We propose to determine the impact of SARS-COV2 infection on PD pathology through a variety of model systems.

Our team combines expertise in virology, immunology, neuropathology and neurodegenerative diseases to model this interaction with the goal of elucidating the risk that SARS-COV-2 infection plays on PD pathology. We will model SARS-COV2 infection in both early and late stages of the PD in murine models to determine potential risks to accelerate or aggravate PD in the preclinical and clinical stages. PD pathology and immune responses in the brain will be examined to identify factors that could explain selective neuronal vulnerability. We will also examine brain tissue from COVID-19 patients for early signs of proteinopathy and neurodegeneration to explore whether infection can trigger or worsen PD. Thus, we propose to mechanistically determine the interaction between SARS-COV2 infection and PD pathology.

Our new MSCA Postdoctoral Fellow should have these skills

We aim to have a researcher with:

  • an immunology background
  • prior experience with in vivo infection models (corona viruses preferable)
  • a special interest in immune response in brain.

Expertise on cell culture and iPSC will be considered an advantage.

Host group expertise

This project is a truly interdisciplinary approach where basic immunologist, neuroscientist, neuroanatomist and pathologist are coming together to study a crucial question with major societal impact. The candidate will be supervised by Dr. M. Romero-Ramos (MRR) and Dr. S.R. Paludan (SRP) (Biomed. AU), and Dr. Wilma Van De Berg (AmsterdamUMC, Netherland) whose expertise will complement each other in this collaboration. MRR lab has wide experience in the in-vivo modelling of PD and the associated neuroinflammatory processes. SRP lab has deep knowledge in virology SRS-COV2 and brain immune response. WdB is a respected neuroanatomistwith strong background in the pathological and high-end microscopic analysis of human brain tissue from PD and other neurodegenerative diseases. The project includes use of iPSC which will be done in collaboration with Dr. Mark Denham (DANDRITE, AU) a neuroscientist with experience on stem cells and iPSC use for PD modelling.

Host department

Host supervisor

Are you interested?

Send your resume and a short description of your motivation for this project to the host supervisor before 31 March 2023.

The application process

Provisional timeline

  • 31 March 2023: Deadline for international postdocs’ enquiries concerning the published project description.
  • Mid-April 2023: The supervisor selects an applicant. 
  • 2 May 2023: Online workshop with writing consultants - supervisor and applicant start to write an application together.
  • June-July 2023: Online meeting between writing consultants, the supervisor and the applicant.
  • Mid-September 2023: EU deadline for applications to the MSCA programme. 
  • February 2024: The European Commission announces the recipients of the MSCA grants, with start in summer 2024.