2019 Nobel Mini-Symposium 55 “The Dark Side of the Brain: Myelinating Glia in the Central and Peripheral Nervous System”

This mini-symposium focused on the emerging roles of myelinating glial cells (oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells) in the CNS and PNS and gathered leading scientists that are making fundamental contributions to and opening new avenues of research in this field.

Since the pioneering work of Santiago Ramon y Cajal and Camillo Golgi in the late 1800’s (Nobel prizes in Physiology or Medicine in 1906), neurons have taken a major stage for their role in higher functions in the central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS and PNS). In the 1920’s, Pio del Rio-Hortega described for the first time oligodendrocytes, a glial population later found to produce myelin, an ensheathing layer that insulates neuronal axons. He also concluded that oligodendrocytes were homologous to Schwann cells in the PNS. The production of myelin and consequent finetuning of the electrical transmission within neuronal networks in the CNS and PNS has been for many decades the main function ascribed to myelinating glia. However, in the last decades, the view of myelinating glial cells as sole neuronal support cells has started to evolve, with the emergence of other roles of these cells in the CNS and PNS circuitry.

Date:     9-10 October 2019

Venue:  The Nobel Forum, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden


Scientific Organizers

Goncalo Castelo-Branco

Roman Chrast



David Attwell (University College of London, UK)

Dwight Bergles (Johns Hopkins Medical School, USA)

Patrizia Casaccia (Advanced Science Research Center, City University of New York, USA)

Gonçalo Castelo-Branco (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)

Roman Chrast  (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)

Leda Dimou (University of Ulm, Germany)

Patrik Ernfors (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)

Anne Baron-Van Evercooren (Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière, Paris, France)

Charles Ffrench-Constant (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Robin Franklin (University of Cambridge, UK)

Jonas Frisen (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)

Vittorio Gallo (Children’s National Health System, Washington, USA)

Steven Goldman (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Claire Jacob  (University of Mainz, Germany)

Thora Karadottir (University of Cambridge, UK)

Qing Richard Lu (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, USA)

David Lyons (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Wendy Macklin (University of Colorado, USA)

Michelle Monje (Stanford University, USA)

Kelly Monk, Vollum Institute (Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, USA)

Klaus Armin Nave (Max Planck Institute, Göttingen, Germany)

Akiko Nishiyama (University of Connecticut, USA)

Elior Peles (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)

William Richardson (University College of London, UK)

Mikael Simons (Technical University of Munich, Germany)


This mini-symposium was sponsored by the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet and the Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.