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Prof. M.P. Smidt has been appointed Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at the Faculty of Science (FNWI) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

Photo Prof. M.P. Smidt
Foto: Jeroen Oerlemans

Prof. M.P. Smidt (1965) has been appointed Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at the Faculty of Science (FNWI) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

Smidt is currently engaged in research, among other things, into the molecular mechanism for the subset specification (molecularly different groups of neurons) of the midbrain dopamine system. His research has attained a strong international character with the launch of an EU consortium (KP7, 2009-2012), in which Smidt, as the consortium coordinator, will try to unravel the molecular coding of dopaminergic subsets. In his position at the UvA, this research will be continued and expanded upon with research into cortical development, specifically the role of forkhead box transcription factors in the maintenance of cortical stem cells.

Smidt previously identified the homeobox gene Pitx3, exclusively present in midbrain dopamine neurons. This is the group of neurons affected by Parkinson's disease. He followed up this discovery with the description of several transcription factors essential as building blocks for these dopamine neurons. Through the identification of these building blocks, Smidt was able to describe a kind of code needed to create midbrain dopamine neurons. It then appeared that more signals are required to obtain and maintain areas of this dopamine system (eg the Substantia nigra pars compacta) over time.

Smidt is Professor of Developmental Neurobiology and head of the research platform Neurodevelopment at the University Medical Center Utrecht, where he has worked since 1995. He was visiting professor at the VU University Amsterdam and the University of Murcia (Spain). In 2009, Smidt received a Vici grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). He has many published many articles, in journals such as Nature Neuroscience, PNAS and Development.