Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences
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Heinrich, Ralf, Prof. Dr.

Professor of Molecular Neuropharmacology of Behavior

  • 1995: Dr. rer. nat., University of Göttingen

  • 1997 - 1999: Postdoctoral fellow, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

  • 2004: Habilitation, Zoology

  • 2002-2008: Junior professor for Molecular Neuropharmacology of Behavior, Göttingen

Major Research Interests

Behavior is the product of complex interactions between various types of neurons that integrate external sensory information with internal physiological states. Motivational systems in general bias an organism to perform most useful actions to secure survival and reproduction by influencing the initiation, intensity, direction and persistence of behaviors. Our lab is especially interested in central nervous and humoral mechanisms underlying the selection and adaptation of actions that are most appropriate for the particular situation an animal encounters. We study the neurochemical mechanisms underlying motivational states in behavior with a combination of neuroethological, pharmacological, electrophysiological, histochemical and immunocytochemical methods and apply these to intact animals, reduced preparations and cultured cells of various invertebrate species.

Another series of projects explores the neuroprotective and neuroregenerative mechanisms of erythropoietin (Epo) in insects. Similar to earlier studies on mammalin nervous systems, it has been demonstrated that human recombinant Epo increases insect neuronal survival in vitro by interfering with apoptotic pathways and improves insect neuronal regeneration in vitro and in vivo by yet unidentified mechanisms. These results suggest that mammals and insects may share an Epo-like ligand/receptor system with both structural and functional similarities in neuroprotection and neuroregeneration.

Invertebrates offer unique advantages over more complex nervous systems of vertebrates and especially mammals, such as a smaller number of neurons in the central nervous system, individually identifiable neurons and rather limited repertoires of behaviors, many of which are composed of genetically determined and stereotype movements. For studying a particular nervous mechanism one can select the most suitable and experimentally accessible preparation from a huge variety of different species with specific anatomical characteristics and more or less complex behaviors.

Homepage Department/Research Group


Selected Recent Publications

  • Miljus N, Heibeck S, Jarrar M, Micke M, Ostrowski D, Ehrenreich H, Heinrich R (2014) Erythropoietin-mediated neuroprotection in insects involves JAK/STAT but not IP3K transduction pathways. Neuroscience 258: 218-227

  • Hahn N, Gurvich A, Geurten B, Piepenbrock D, Kästner A, Zanini D, Xing G, Xie W, Göpfert MC, Ehrenreich H, Heinrich R (2013) Monogenic heritable autism gene neuroligin impacts Drosophila social behaviour. Behavioural Brain Research 252: 450-457

  • Heinrich R, Kunst M, Wirmer A (2012) Reproduction-related sound production of grasshoppers regulated by internal state and actual sensory environment. Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience 6, 89: 1-9

  • Ostrowski D, Ehrenreich H, Heinrich R (2011) Erythropoietin promotes survival and regeneration of insect neurons in vivo and in vitro. Neuroscience 188: 95-108

  • Johnsson T, Kravitz EA, Heinrich R (2011) Sound production during agonistic behaviour of male Drosophila melanogaster. Fly 5: 29-38

  • Wirmer A, Heinrich R (2011) Nitric oxide/cGMP signaling in the corpora allata of female grasshoppers. J Insect Physiology 57: 94-107

  • Farca Luna AJ, Heinrich R, Reischig T (2010) The circadian biology of the marbled crayfish. Frontiers in Bioscience E2(4): 1414-1431

  • Heck C, Kunst M, Härtel K, Hülsmann S, Heinrich R (2009) In vivo labeling and in vitro characterisation of central complex neurons involved in the control of sound production. J. Neuroscience Methods 183: 202-212

GGNB Heinrich

Prof. Dr. Ralf Heinrich
Dept. Cellular Neurobiology
Schwann-Schleiden Research Centre
Julia-Lermontowa-Weg 3
37077 Göttingen

Tel.: +49-(0)551-39 177 958
Fax: +49-(0)551-39 177 952
e-mail: rheinri1@gwdg.de

GGNB Affiliation
Neurosciences (IMPRS)
Sensory and Motor Neuroscience
Systems Neuroscience