Faculty member

Research Interests

The central nervous system (CNS) is mainly composed of two types of cells, neurons and glia cells, which form most of the CNS volume. Still, about 20% of CNS volume is generated by extracellular matrix (ECM) which is composed of specific macromolecules that fill the extracellular space and remarkably contribute to the cellular and structural organization of the CNS.

This line of research is focused on:

“Analyzing the structure, composition and function of ECM of the CNS in physiology and pathology.”

In physiological concentrations, iron plays due to its versatile function a key role in cell viability. In contrast, high concentrations of free iron raises the level of oxidative stress within the cell via the Fenton-Haber-Weiss-reaction and promote the formation of toxic radicals. Resulting reactive species lead ultimately to cell death.

This line of research is focused on:

“Examining and quantitatively analyzing the distribution, cellular and subcellular localization of iron in the CNS in physiology and pathology.”

The human brain is organized in specialized anatomical and functional units, each associated with distinctive roles. These regions do not work in isolation, but communicate in highly synchronized networks connected by white matter long-range and short-range association fibres. The totality of these connections, their microstructural properties, and their interactions can be summarized as the microstructural connectome and are currently intensively investigated.

This line of research is focused on:

“Developing and applying advanced ex vivo histology analysis strategies on the human and great ape brains using complementary 2-D (e.g. high-resolution semithin and ultrathin techniques) and 3-D (e.g. CLARITY, iDisco, ECI) neuroimaging techniques fused with gold-standard ex vivo histology.“


Our research topics are pursued, in close cooperation with the Neurophysics Department at the MPI-CBS (Prof. N. Weiskopf, Dr. E. Kirilina, Dr. C. Jäger and others), to validate proposed MRI methods and biophysical models.

All three topics are carried out primarily on human and great apes’ brains with cutting edge neuroimaging systems like automated digital slide scanner (Zeiss, AxioScanZ.1), super resolution 2-photon confocal laserscanning microscope (Zeiss, LSM880 fast Airyscan), light sheet microscopes ( Milteni/La Vision Ultramicroscope II; 3i, Marianas Di-Spim) and a transmission electron microscope with element analysis (Zeiss EM 912 Omega). In addition, biochemical and molecular biology techniques are applied to complement the imaging analysis.

Available PhD projects

In regard to these research topics, we are looking for PhD students to work on

(i) the structure and composition of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the great ape and human adult and developing brain.

(ii) the distribution and accumulation of iron in the great ape and human brain during aging and development.

(iii) the changes of myelination in the great ape and human brain during aging and development.

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