Simon Sprecher


A basic and fundamental question in neurobiology has been a driving force for me to the present date:  How do neurons know which cell-fate to acquire and to carry out their proper function? This question seems especially impacting in view of the complexity of cell types and functionality in the nervous system.

PhD at the Biocenter, University of Basel:

While studying Biology from 1998-2002 at the University of Basel my interest concentrated on how the brain develops during embryogenesis. In the lab of Prof. Heinrich Reichert I started to work with the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and was immediately fascinated by the powerful genetics available in Drosophila and the oustanding molecular tools by hand. As an undergraduate student I was working with Dr. Frank Hirth on the function of Hox genes during embryonic brain development. During my PhD I became interested in what may be the role of dorsoventral-patterning genes in the brain. A particular point of interest was how dorsoventral-patterning and anteriorposterior-patterning genes coordinate the specification of a specific brain neuromere. In collaboration with Prof. Volker Hartenstein at UCLA, Los Angeles, I started to use 3D annotation and models to develop a 3D model of gene expression in the embryonic brain. After a short period working on hindbrain patterning in mice in the lab of Prof. Filippo Rijli at the IGBMC in Strasbourg when I received my PhD I decided to move back to Drosophila and started to work on sensory systems.

Postdoc at New York University, New York, USA:

In Fall 2005 I chose to start a Postdoc and move to the lab of Prof. Claude Desplan at New York University, the leading lab of photoreceptor subtype specification in Drosophila. In New York I develop the larval visual system as a genetic model for sensory neuron specification and functionality. The 3 years of Postdoctoral research have produced very significant results and I have established the visual system of the Drosophila larva as an impacting genetic model system to study both development and function of a sensory organ. Bridging the development and function of the visual system continues to be the ongoing major focus of my research work.

Professor at the University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland

Since Fall 2009 I am Professor in Neurobiology at the Department of Biology of the University of Fribourg. The research im my laboratory continues to be focussed on the development and function of the nervous system (for Details see Research)