Faculty

The RTG joins scientists with expertise in basic, clinical and translational neuroscience to tackle Neurodevelopment and Vulnerability of the CNS from multiple angles to find novel interdisciplinary approaches.

Prof. Christian Alzheimer

1985    MD, LMU München

1987    Postdoctoral Fellow, LMU München

1991    Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

1993    Group leader, LMU München

1996    Heisenberg Fellow, LMU München

2002    Professor, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel

2008    Professor and Chairman, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

Our research focuses on the electric behavior of CNS neurons under normal and pathological conditions. Using high-resolution neurophysiologic and optical techniques, we investigate function and regulation of ion channels and synapses.

Our aim is to understand fundamental neural processes which are essential for cognitive and motor functions as well as for affective behavior and whose dysfunctions might give rise to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Project

Role of the ASM/ceramide system in mediating vulnerability to neuropsychiatric disease

Prof. Johann Helmut Brandstätter

1988    PhD, Karl Franzens University, Graz, Austria

1988    Postdoctoral Fellow, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

1992    Research Assistant, Department of Biology, University of Freiburg

1992    Max Planck Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt/Main

1993    Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt/Main

1998    Heisenberg Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt/Main

2004    Professor, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2006    Professor and Chairman, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

The research of the Brandstätter and Regus-Leidig group focuses on molecules and mechanisms that play a role in the development and the structural and functional organization of chemical synapses in the CNS with a special focus on the retina. In our experimental approach, we combine methods ranging from immunocytochemistry and light- and electron microscopical imaging to biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, and electrophysiology.

As synaptophathies = malfunctioning synapses are a reason for many neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders, the aim of our research is to contribute to a better understanding of synapse function in health and disease.

Project

Examining the synaptogenesis and synapse maintenance factor Bassoon as a putative factor for the differential sensitivity of photoreceptors to late-onset degeneration

Prof. Kristina Friedland

2005    PhD in Pharmacology, Goethe University Frankfurt

2005    Postdoctoral Fellow, Pharmacology, Goethe University Frankfurt and Department of Neurobiology, University of Alabama, Birmingham/USA

2011   Professor, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

Research in my group aims to understand the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric diseases e.g. mood disorders and Alzheimer disease with a focus on ion channels and mitochondria. In addition, we aim to develop new pharmacological therapies for these diseases.

Project

Interaction of ASM/ceramide system and TRPC6 channels and its role in plasticity and depression-like behavior

Prof. Johannes Kornhuber

1985    MD, University of Ulm

1986    Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Würzburg

1996    Associate Professor, University of Göttingen

2000    Professor and Chairman, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

Our research focuses on sphingolipid metabolism and neuropsychiatric disorders, on the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder and Alzheimer’s disease and on the early and differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Project

Role of the ASM/ceramide system in mediating vulnerability to neuropsychiatric disease

Prof. Dieter Chichung Lie

1998    MD, RWTH Aachen

1999    Postdoctoral Fellow, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

2005    Group Leader, Helmholtz Center Munich

2011    Professor, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

Adult hippocampal neurogenesis – the generation of hippocampal neurons from stem cells throughout life – is a prime example of how the continuous activity of neurodevelopmental processes shapes plasticity of the adult brain. Notably, impaired adult neurogenesis is evolving as a major contributor to neuropsychiatric symptoms in ageing, mental and neurodegenerative diseases.

Research in my group aims to understand the molecular and cell biological mechanisms controlling adult hippocampal neurogenesis with a major focus on transcriptional and metabolic regulation.

Project

Role of the intellectual disability and schizophrenia gene TCF4 in neural development and plasticity

Prof. Ralf Linker

1999    MD, University of Freiburg (Breisgau)

2007    Specialization in Neurology at the University Hospitals in Würzburg, Göttingen and Bochum

2008    Head of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Department of Neurology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2010    Head of the Neuroimmunology Section, Department of Neurology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2013    Professor for Neuroimmunology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

My continuing scientific interests include neurodegeneration and neuroprotection as well as glial cells in MS, and mechanisms of action of new immunotherapies.

Project

Role of the transcription factors Sox8 and Sox10 in susceptibility and repair in demyelinating diseases

PD Dr. Hanna Regus-Leidig

2008    PhD, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt/Main, and FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2008    University Assistant, Department of Biology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2014    Habilitation in Zoology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2014    Group Leader, Department of Biology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

The research of the Brandstätter and Regus-Leidig group focuses on molecules and mechanisms that play a role in the development and the structural and functional organization of chemical synapses in the CNS with a special focus on the retina. In our experimental approach, we combine methods ranging from immunocytochemistry and light- and electron microscopical imaging to biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, and electrophysiology.

As synaptophathies = malfunctioning synapses are a reason for many neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders, the aim of our research is to contribute to a better understanding of synapse function in health and disease.

Project

Examining the synaptogenesis and synapse maintenance factor Bassoon as a putative factor for the differential sensitivity of photoreceptors to late-onset degeneration

Prof. André Reis

1986    MD, Universities of Göttingen und Lübeck

1986    Postdoctoral fellow, Inst. of Human Genetics, Univ. of Göttingen

1990    Group leader, Inst. of Human Genetics, Humboldt Univ. Berlin

1995    Group leader, “Gene Mapping Centre” at Max-Delbrück-Center (MDC), Berlin

1998    Associate Professor, Humboldt Univ. Berlin

2000    Professor and Chairman, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

Genetic basis of neurocognitive disorders – the majority of these disorders, especially those with moderate to severe intellectual impairment, are caused by major genetic defects, but the genetic heterogeneity is extremely high, making their elucidation a challenge. In recent years, though, common pathways and cellular processes have emerged making identification of causative genes and the study of their pathophysiology an excellent avenue to understand cognition and eventually find treatments for affected individuals.

Research in my group aims to understand the genetic defects and molecular mechanisms controlling all process leading to disturbed cognition with a major focus on chromatin related processes of transcriptional control.

Project

Identification of common pathways in intellectual disability and schizophrenia

Prof. Michael Wegner

1990    Dr. rer. nat., Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

1990    Postdoctoral Fellow, CMM, University of California at San Diego (UCSD)

1994    Group Leader, Centre for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH)

2000    Professor, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

Myelination is a central function of glial cells in the vertebrate nervous system, and essential during development as well as in the adult as evident from the fact that myelination defects cause a variety of diseases that manifest at different times of life including leukodystrophies, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and multiple sclerosis.

Research in my group aims to understand the molecular mechanisms controlling gliogenesis, glial identity and homeostasis as well as myelination in the vertebrate central and peripheral nervous systems with a major focus on transcriptional regulation.

Project

Role of the neurodevelopmental transcription factors Sox10 and Sox8 in myelin maintenance during adulthood

Prof. Jürgen Winkler

1986    M.D., School of Medicine, Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg and Louis-Pasteur University, Strasbourg (France)

1986    Residency in Neurology, Julius-Maximilians University Würzburg

1992    Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Neurosciences, University of California San Diego (UCSD) and McDonnell-Pew Center, Salk Institute, La Jolla

1995    Assistant Adjunct Professor of Neurosciences, UCSD

2002    Professor of Clinical Neurobiology, University of Regensburg

2008    Molecular Neurology and Movement Disorder Center, University Hospital Erlangen

Research focus

The underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases such as synucleinopathies are examined by using innovative translational neuroscience approaches in order to define the impact on the endogenous regenerative potential within the diseased brain, in particular the generation of new neurons and oligodendroglia. Furthermore, by taking advantage of our outpatient clinic we established human induced pluripotent stem cells and neural progeny for disease modelling purposes. The overall hypothesis is that impaired adult neuro- and oligodendrogenesis may contribute to distinct disease phenotypes. The present project investigates the functional consequences of alpha-synuclein pathology in oligodendrocytes with particular focus on myelin homeostasis.

Project

Oligodendrogenesis and myelin homeostasis in alpha-synucleinopathies

Prof. Beate Winner

1999    MD, Universities of Regensburg and Würzburg

2005    Specialist, Neurology, Universität Regensburg, Klinik und Poliklinik für Neurologie

2007    Humboldt Fellow, Research Associate, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

2010    IZKF Junior Group Leader/ BMBF Research Group Leader Neuroscience, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Project

Impact of the hereditary spastic paraplegia gene SPG11 on neuronal development and maintenance

PD Dr. Christiane Zweier

2003    MD, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg

2004    Clinical geneticist and research fellow, Institute of Human Genetics, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2009    Guest Scientist, Radboud University Nijmegen

2009    Group leader, Institute of Human Genetics, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

2012    Specialisation in Human Genetics

2013    Habilitation in Human Genetics, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Research focus

Intellectual disability (ID) as a neurodevelopmental disorder is clinically and genetically extremely heterogeneous, and the number of underlying genes is still largely incomplete. Though recent studies have indicated that convergent molecular pathways underlie common phenotypic aspects, a comprehensive and systematic understanding of ID disorders and their underlying biology is still limited.

My group focuses on the clinical, genetic and functional characterization of ID disorders. Apart from phenotypic delineation of new disease entities, we aim to identify novel ID genes and to subsequently characterize their function and interaction with other ID genes/proteins in common pathways and networks.

Project

Role of chromatin interacting and intellectual disability (ID) genes in neurodevelopment