Simon Sprecher

UNIFR, Simon Sprecher (SS)

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Scientific Expertise & Collaborations: The current research of the Sprecher lab covers developmental and functional aspects of the larval visual system extending the focus on central brain circuits. Specifically the following topics are investigated: (1) Identification, neuroanatomical and molecular description of individual neurons in the larval brain using molecular genetic tools and serial EM analysis (primarily for visual processing); (2) Genomic description of the transcription profile of identified individual neurons; (3) Functional description of identified neurons using computerised analysis for distinct larval behaviours; (4) Identification and manipulation of neurotransmitter systems in specific identified neurons.

SS has several ongoing collaborations: on visual input into circadian rhythm control and consequence for behaviour in larvae with Keene and Blau (NYU, USA); on EM-analysis of the larval optic neuropile with Hartenstein (UCLA, USA) and Albert Cardona (INI, Switzerland).

Training Expertise: SS currently supervises 1 Masters student, 1 technician, 2 PhD students and 1 postdoctoral fellow. He trained and supervised 3 Master students, several summer students, exchange and undergraduate students.

Training & Research Environment: The Department of Biology of the University of Fribourg has long standing record of leading edge research in a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from molecular ecology to developmental neuroscience. The campus harbors the Units of Biochemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, all having a strong focus in neurobiology. The Department of Biology contains all essential facilities and services, including light microscope facility. Other more specialized facilities such as EM-microscopy, sequencing or microarrays are present and used in conjunction with neighbouring Departments.

Multidisciplinary graduate and undergraduate training programs are running while bridging Departments within and outside the University of Fribourg. The Universities of Fribourg, Berne and Neuchatel established a neurobiology PhD Program; the University of Fribourg and Berne run a Masters Program in Neuro- and Developmental biology. The University of Fribourg and distinct Departments offer an array of courses and workshops, including soft skills for career development. One of the specialties of the University of Fribourg is its trilingual organization so that most courses are hold in French, German and English.

Most relevant publications:

1. Sprecher SG, Cardona A, Hartenstein V (2011) The Drosophila larval visual system: High-resolution analysis of a simple visual neuropil. Dev Biol. 358(1):33-43. 

2. Diaz NN, Sprecher SG (2011) Photoreceptors: unconventional ways of seeingCurr Biol Jan 11;21(1):R25-7

3. Sprecher SG and Desplan C (2008). Switch of rhodopsin expression in terminally differentiated Drosophila sensory neuronsNature, Jul 24 454 (7203):533-537

4. Sprecher SGPichaud F and Desplan C (2007). Adult and larval photoreceptors use different mechanisms to specify the same Rhodopsin fatesGenes & Dev. 1;21(17):2182-95.