An interview with the winner of the Bernstein Award 2008, Dr. Susanne Schreiber, Humboldt University Berlin.
© Dr. Susanne SchreiberYou conduct research into the characteristics of nerve cells. What results are you hoping for in the treatment of previously incurable illnesses such as epilepsy?
Defects in individual protein types are already sufficient to cause complex diseases such as epilepsy. The proteins affect the individual cell, changing its characteristics, which in turn influence the collective behaviour of the entire network of cells. In my opinion, a better understanding of the interaction between individual cell characteristics and network characteristics will contribute in the long term to finding approaches for new medicines with which pathological network conditions (such as in epileptic seizures) can be prevented.
You are a successful scientist and mother. What is your recipe?
There is no recipe, unfortunately. But good all-day childcare and a supportive environment - first and foremost a supportive partner, but also superiors and colleagues -, are very helpful. The support of the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Foundation has also made it a lot easier for me to combine both roles.
You spent several years carrying out research in the USA and Great Britain. Why did you return to Germany?
I wanted to officially complete my doctorate in Germany due to the shorter doctorate periods. Just as I finished it, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research was establishing the new Bernstein Centers for Computational Neuroscience, which offer an outstanding research environment that won me over.
Forschung & Lehre :: January 2009