Pawel Burkhardt
Dr. Pawel Burkhardt is a research group leader at the Michael Sars Centre in Bergen — NORWAY
Dr. Pawel Burkhardt is a research group leader at the Michael Sars Centre in Bergen, Norway. His research has the primary focus on using marine organisms to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the origin of synapses and neurons. He studied Biology at the University of Göttingen, Germany and Manchester, UK and joined the lab of Dirk Fasshauer at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany for his Master's thesis and PhD, where he worked on rat and choanoflagellate (neuro-) secretory proteins. For his postdoc he studied choanoflagellate postsynaptic protein homologs, in the lab of Nicole King at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Prior to starting his research group "Evolutionary Origin of Synapses and Neurons" at the Sars Centre in 2018 he worked as a Research Fellow at the Marine Biological Association, UK. He was awarded an ERC consolidator grant in 2022. Burkhardt will present recent discoveries on neuronal protein homologs found in choanoflagellates and ctenophores. His group has characterized several neuronal protein complexes from choanoflagellates and gained insights into their molecular mechanism. Their analysis indicates that the ctenophore nerve net is wired in a different way to what is known from other animals.
These results (Science 2023) challenge the paradigm of neuronal network activity emerging through cellular diversification and provide insights into different ways to build a neural network.