Meet Mai Marie Holm

Portrait of Mai Marie Holm
Photo: Aarhus University

“My lab works with electrophysiological studies of isolated brain tissue and thereby analysis of selected aspects of brain functionality, e.g. synaptic transmission and plasticity.”

Towards helping patients suffering from brain disorders

What are the molecular mechanisms underlying normal and diseased brain functions – and how can we control them? These are fundamental questions for associate professor Mai Marie Holm whose research is based on a long-lasting fascination of neuronal receptors and the hope of helping future patients suffering from brain disorders.

“Currently, the main experimental setups in my laboratory are optimized for electrophysiological studies of isolated brain tissue and thereby analysis of selected aspects of brain functionality, e.g. synaptic transmission and plasticity,” says Mai Marie Holm.

Together with her collaborators, she has documented impaired inhibitory functionality and plasticity in a model of depression. Interestingly, these impairments could be normalized by antidepressants. Furthermore, in an ALS model, the lab revealed inhibitory/excitatory imbalances in the brain, some even occurring at early stages of disease progression.

Another line of research involves a type of neuronal sorting receptor localized in critical areas of the brain, but where science still has far from complete understanding of its roles in neuronal communication. Recently, her lab has published evidence of crucial roles in synaptic transmission and plasticity, prompting further attempts to map the whole range of functions.

“As a complement approach, the lab employs selected pharmacological tools to regulate the neuronal mechanisms with the future aim to shape and maybe even normalize disease mechanisms in the human brain,” Mai Marie Holm explains.

The huge interest in neuronal receptors came along with her PhD studies in molecular neurobiology and electrophysiology at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, AU and at Emory University, Atlanta, USA. Holm’s graduate project identified critical sites in the receptors for activation and desensitization, as well as in the ligands interacting in the binding-site, thereby determining important aspects of receptor/ligand functionality.

Portrait of Mai Marie Holm
Photo: Aarhus University

“My lab works with electrophysiological studies of isolated brain tissue and thereby analysis of selected aspects of brain functionality, e.g. synaptic transmission and plasticity.”