Professor of Neurology
Major Research Interests
Neuronal cell loss is not only a major feature of human neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson?s disease (PD), Alzheimer?s disease (AD) or stroke, but can also be observed in neuroinflammatory conditions like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or after traumatic lesions. We examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuronal dysfunction and neuronal cell death in
animal models of the respective disorders with the ultimate goal to detect new targets for a therapeutic neuroprotective intervention.
We have used for many years the retino-tectal system in rodents as our standard model to study de-and regeneration in vitro and in vivo. Our group has in detail analysed the cellular and molecular cascades that follow lesions of the optic nerve and ultimately lead to cell death of the retinal ganglion cells. To monitor the changes that occur directly after lesions we succeeded in implementing in vivo life-imaging of the rat and mouse optic nerve, which offers us a unique opportunity to study the complex processes that follow traumatic or inflammatory lesions of CNS fibre tracts.
In classical neurodegeneration research we have choosen PD as our topic. In this field, a multidisciplinary research team with our participation in the area C2 of the excellence cluster CNMPB examines the role of a-synuclein aggregation for dopaminergic dysfunction and cell death and characterizes other disease related proteins in order to develop new neuroprotective strategies.
In all our model systems we use AAV-mediated viral gene transfer to express different disease-or de-/regeneration associated genes as research tools and also as potential therapeutic factors to manipulate the respective molecular events in vitro and in vivo. To that end, we have e.g. developed regulatory elements that allow a controlled gene expression in complex in vivo models.
The final aim of our research approaches is to describe in detail the molecular pathophysiology that leads to axonal and neuronal loss and to develop new therapeutic strategies, some of which have already been translated into proof of concept studies in human patients.
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Selected Recent Publications