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"Our lab is very international, I felt right at home from the start."

Joao Couto is a PhD student at the Laboratory of Theoretical Neurobiology and Neuroengineering.

“I am from Portugal, where I studied Biomedical Sciences at the University of Lisbon. It was when writing my Master's dissertation that I learned about the work of Professor Michele Giuglinao and Professor Erik de Schutter at the University of Antwerp. I was very interested in contributing to their research, so I contacted them. We met first through Skype, but then I travelled over to meet them in person. Two months later here I was, working in Antwerp! "

“My PhD is part of an European research project where nine European labs join efforts to understand how the cerebellum works. It's an area of the brain that plays an important role in the coordination of movement, among other things. My particular project focuses on finding more about how particular neurons in the  cerebellum transmit information and process information. It is a very fundamental study but also highly relevant, because if we have a better understanding of how individual neurons in the brain compute information, we may in the future suggest novel therapies for illnesses such as cerebellar ataxia."

“Our lab is very international, we have people from Italy, Portugal, Poland, Romania, the United States, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Belgium. I felt right at home from the start. The atmosphere is very positive and constructive. Every week we hold a lab meeting so that we can keep each other up-to-date on the progress of our work and help out if problems arise. After hours, we regularly go out together in Antwerp. That's how we learned to know and to appreciate Belgian beers (laughs)."

Joao Couto