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Dr M. Kamermans has been appointed Professor of Neurophysiology, specialising in Sensory Physiology, in the Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA).

Fotograaf: Jeroen Oerlemans

Dr M. Kamermans (1956) has been appointed Professor of Neurophysiology, specialising in Sensory Physiology, in the Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA) of the University of Amsterdam.

Maarten Kamermans researches how the retina codes visual information so that it can be processed by the brain. The most important goal of the neurosciences is to gain insight into how the brain processes information and how this process changes in the case of environmental and pathological disturbances. Such knowledge is essential to the development of therapies for neurological and psychiatric disorders. In recent years much knowledge has been acquired about the signals transmitted between neurons, and how neural networks are organized and can adapt to new circumstances. However, it is much less clear what the signals that neurons exchange mean in terms of information coding. What is currently missing is insight into the neuronal code: the language that neurons speak among themselves. With his multidisciplinary research group, Kamermans studies such processes in the retina at different levels ranging from the molecular to the behavioural.

By making cell-specific changes in certain important proteins that are involved in intercellular communication, the role that these proteins and the neurons play in the neuronal network can be studied from a genetic to a behavioural level. The group of proteins that Kamermans will focus on first are connexines. They form the molecular basis of electric synapses (gap junctions) and so-called hemichannels, and are of major importance for the processing of information in the retina and in the brain. Apart from the fact that it provides fundamental insight into information coding, the knowledge that Kamermans obtains in this study will be used to examine the physiological basis of pathogenic mutations in connexines. Mutations in connexines are the basis for a large number of neurological conditions, including some neuropathies. This aspect of the research will be executed in collaboration with the Neurogenetics department of the AMC. In addition, Kamermans will be actively involved in the education of Bachelor's and Master's students in the Medicine and Biology programmes.

Kamermans works at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), where he directs the Retinal Signal Processing research group. This research group was affiliated with the Interuniversity Ophthalmology Institute (IOI) from 1999 to 2005. From 2003 to 2005, Kamermans was Science Deputy Director of the IOI, which together with the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research merged in 2005 to form the NIN. Kamermans was Senior Researcher in the AMC and IOI's Visual System Analysis department from 1996 to 1999. After working as a researcher in the Neurobiology department of the University of California, Berkeley, he worked as KNAW Academy Researcher in the Medical Physics department of the AMC from 1991 to 1996.