The concept of glia was introduced by Virchow over 150 years ago; most of the time since then, this cellular compartment of the brain was ignored by most neuroscientists. However, it became evident over the last 20 years that glial cells are involved in virtually every aspect of neuronal function. In particular, neurons and glia exchange chemical signals that are essential for the normal function of the nervous system, and are extremely important in disease states such as multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, brain cancer, HIV, and stroke. Moreover, the recent discovery that glial cells act as neural stem cells both in development and adulthood has placed this cell type in the focus of scientific attention.

Edu-GLIA includes studies on a wide variety of glial cell types in various distinct neuronal networks by applying a large repertoire of advanced methods, in order to reveal novel insights and approaches and to equip young researchers with all they need to accelerate the future development of this field.

Research is aimed at studying glia-neuron interactions from early development to old age, with an emphasis on pathology and clinical impact. It is mainly based upon innovative and versatile model systems and advanced research techniques, as well as upon the original concepts of the participating senior scientists who all are leading experts in their fields.

The interactive project objectives include gaining novel insights into the mechanisms of glia-neuron interactions as well as equipping young researchers with the most advanced skills, knowledge, and ideas in this field. Thereby, Edu-GLIA is explicitly aimed at contributing to a new generation of motivated and capable scientists in the field.


Each project aims at elucidating one particular glia-neuron interaction within the central or peripheral nervous system. This means that each project is focussed upon a function, rather than upon a mere property, of glial cells. Furthermore, each project will involve the prospect of applying the expected results to a clinical problem.

All projects are assigned to the following 3 approaches:

  1. Glial Contribution to Information Processing
  2. Role of Glia in Neurodegeneration and -regeneration
  3. Glial Progenitor Cells

Approach 1: Glial Contribution to Information Processing

  • Partner 2 - Arthur Butt:
    White matter glia: from normal function to pathology
  • Partner 6 - Stéphane Oliet:
    Control of extrasynaptic / volume transmission by glial cells
  • Partner 9 - Alexej Verkhratsky:
    Physiological and pathophysiological potential of astroglial NMDA receptors
  • Partner 11 - Robert Zorec:
    Gliotransmitter release: vesicle mobility and the cytoskeleton

Approach 2: Role of Glia in Neurodegeneration and -regeneration

  • Partner 1 - Hartwig Wolburg:
    Glial cells at the vasculature; blood-brain barrier and blood-retina barrier
  • Partner 4 - Menachem Hanani:
    Peripheral glia (satellite glial cells): role in neuropathic pain
  • Partner 7 - Milos Pekny:
    Modification of reactive gliosis in CNS injury and regeneration
  • Partner 10 - Andreas Reichenbach:
    Retinal glia: altered biomechanics in ocular diseases
  • Partner 13 - Frank Kirchhoff:
    Motility and plasticity of glial cells: synaptic functioning and neuroprotection

Approach 3: Glial Progenitor Cells

  • Partner 3 - Magdalena Götz / Marius Ueffing:
    Glia-derived stem cells / progenitor cells in CNS regeneration
  • Partner 8 - Eva Sykova:
    Glial cells, neurons and stem cells: properties and communication via the extracellular space
  • Partner 12 - Mikael Kubista:
    Single cell expression profiling of astrocytic progenitor cells