University of Basel
Transfaculty Research Platform
Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences
Birmannsgasse 8
4055 Basel

Project leader

Prof. Andreas Papassotiropoulos, MD
Phone: +41612670599
Fax: +4612670587
Prof. Dominique de Quervain, MD
Phone: +41612670237
Fax: +4612670241

Project staff

Klara Spalek, MSc
Phone: +41612670226
Fax: +4612670241

Institute presentation

The Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neuroscience (MCN) has the distinction of being the first transfaculty endeavour of the University of Basel and has developed into a thriving hub for psychological and psychiatric research. MCN’s research programmes focus on such neuroscience-related aspects as the molecular and genetic mechanisms of human cognition, the mechanisms promoting mental health or leading to mental disease, the neural mechanisms leading to decision-making, dementia, and cognitive neuroscience. Research methods include cutting-edge genomics, transcriptomics, and methylomics, state-of-the-art brain imaging, electrophysiology and virtual reality laboratories, as well as modern facilities for behavioral observation and cognitive testing. This research plan has been already extremely fruitful and has put Basel’s psychology and psychiatry research already at a top level of international competition and visibility, as shown by its publications in Science, Nature Neuroscience and PNAS, among others. For example, we were the first group to identify memory-related genes in human by using high-throughput genotyping methods and implementing comprehensive multi-locus statistical methods as well as functional brain imaging (Science 2006). Our work has been commented in detail by editors of high-ranked journals (e.g. Lancet Neurology), and was declared by the editors of Science as a “Breakthrough of the Year”.


Key publications

  • de Quervain, D.J., Roozendaal, B. & McGaugh, J.L. (1998). Stress and glucocorticoids impair retrieval of long-term spatial memory. Nature 394, 787-90.
  • Papassotiropoulos, A., Stephan. D.A., Huentelman, M.J., Hoerndli, F.J., Craig, D.W., Pearson, J.V., Huynh, K.D., Brunner, F., Corneveaux, J., Osborne, D., Wollmer, M.A., Aerni, A., Coluccia, D., Hänggi, J., Mondadori, C.A., Buchmann, A., Reiman, E.M., Caselli, R.J., Henke, K. & de Quervain, D.J.F. (2006). Common KIBRA alleles are associated with human memory performance. Science 314(5798), 475-478.
  • de Quervain, D.J.F., Henke, K., Aerni, A., Coluccia, D., Wollmer, M.A., Hock, C., Nitsch, R.M. & Papassotiropoulos, A. (2003). A functional genetic variation of the 5-HT2a receptor affects human memory. Nature Neuroscience 6, 1141-1142.
  • de Quervain, D.J.F., Kolassa, I.T., Ertl, V., Onyut, P.L., Neuner, F., Elbert, T. & Papassotiropoulos, A. (2007). A deletion variant of the alpha2b-adrenoceptor is related to emotional memory in Europeans and Africans. Nature Neuroscience 10(9), 1137-1139.
  • Papassotiropoulos, A., Gerhards, C., Heck, A., Ackermann, S., Aerni, A., Schicktanz, N., Auschra, B., Demougin, P., Elbert, T., Ertl, V., Gschwind, L., Hanser, E., Huynh, K.D., Jessen, F., Kolassa, I.T., Milnik, A., Paganetti, P., Spalek, S., Vogler, C., Muhs, A., Pfeifer, A. & de Quervain, D.J.F. (2013). Human genome-guided identification of memory-modulating drugs. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(46):E4369-74.
  • de Quervain, D.J.F., Kolassa, I.T., Ackermann, S., Aerni, A., Boesiger, P., Demougin, P., Elbert, T., Ertl, V., Gschwind, L., Hadziselimovic, N., Hanser, E., Heck, A., Hieber, P., Huynh, K.-D., Klarhöfer, M., Luechinger, R., Rasch, B., Scheffler, K., Spalek, K., Stippich, C., Vogler, C., Vukojevic, V., Stetak, A. & Papassotiropoulos, A. (2012). PKCa is genetically linked to memory capacity in non-traumatized individuals and to traumatic memory and PTSD in genocide survivors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(22), 8746-51.
  • Rasch, B., Spalek, K., Buholzer, S., Lüchinger, R., Bösiger, P., Papassotiropoulos, A. & de Quervain, D.J.F. (2009). A functional genetic variation of the noradrenergic system is related to differential amygdala activation during encoding of emotional memories. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106(45), 19191–19196.
  • de Quervain, D.J.F. & Papassotiropoulos, A. (2006). Identification of a genetic cluster influencing memory performance and hippocampal activity in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103(11), 4270-4274.
  • Papassotiropoulos, A. & de Quervain, D.J.F. (2011). Genetics of human episodic memory: Dealing with complexity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(9), 381-387.