Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology

Rabies - a key to understanding ourselves

Peter L. Strick

The 2017 Linné lecturer is Professor Peter L. Strick, researcher in neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. His host is Per Ahlberg, Professor of Evolutionary Organismal Biology at Uppsala University.

Peter L. Strick’s lecture is titled Using Rabies Virus to Investigate the Mind-Body Problem – what is it about?


Per Ahlberg, Professor
at the Department of
Organismal Biology
and host of this year´s
Linné lecturer
Peter L. Strick

Per Ahlberg: "He'll talk about the possibility to study the links between our perceived reality in the brain and our bodily reactions. It’s well known that the body responds very clearly to different moods, that you may actually get physical symptoms from emotional states, so-called psychosomatic phenomena. An example is the child who gets a stomach ache because it doesn't want to go to school. What makes Peter Strick’s research so interesting is that he focuses on the physical basis for these kinds of experiences. He tracks the nerve pathways that connect the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where many of our advanced mental functions take place, with organs such as the adrenal glands, producing adrenaline. In this way, we’re able to follow a direct connection between brain and body.”

"The problem is that the nervous system is incredibly complex with billions of neurons, interwoven and connected to each other in every possible way. To understand this system, you need to be able to trace the circuits within the nervous system using some kind of substance. And the one Strick uses is genetically modified rabies virus. Rabies is one of the most terrifying diseases we know about: a viral disease transmitted through animal bites and that in a very short time destroys the brain, leading to madness and death. Since it’s spread along these nerve pathways, the virus can be used to study the wiring system.”

"What’s unusual about Peter Strick is that here we have a scientist who’s working on something with direct links to our self-perceived reality. Not just what the world out there looks like, but how we perceive ourselves. He will talk about matters related to emotions and physical experiences that we’ve all had, and that despite the fact that they form a very central part of our physical life experience, they really haven’t been understood at all at a mechanistic level. It will be very interesting to listen to.”

The day after the lecture, the Celsius-Linné lecturers will participate at a seminar at BMC,themed Behavior and pattern - complexity made simple, which is also open to the public – what will Peter Strick talk about then?

 "He will continue on the theme of the lecture and talk about why mice are unable to play the violin. It will again be a question of mind-body connections: how mice and humans manage different kinds of information and what we are capable of doing with those abilities.”


Time: 14:00 – approx. 17:00

Location: The Svedberg Hall (B8), BMC (Biomedical Centre)

Free admission. No registration is needed.


Time: 09:30 – 15:00

Location: The Svedberg Hall (B8), BMC (Biomedical Centre)

Free admission. No registration is needed.

Learn more about the Celsius-Linné lectures and symposium at Uppsala University

More about Peter Strick´s research

Anneli Björkman