Alphabetical List



  Prof. Dr. Adriano Aguzzi
Institute of Neuropathology, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: We have devoted the past 20 years to studying the immunological and molecular basis of prion pathogenesis. Currently, the primary focus of the lab lies on elucidating mechanisms underlying a) replication of prions and prion-like proteins such as alpha-synuclein and b) neurotoxicity in prion diseases. We approach these objectives from different directions. On one hand, we have established highly automated platforms for cell-based assays in order to screen for genes that are important for either prion replication or toxicity. On the other hand, we use a variety of model systems for genetic and infectious prion disease including cell culture models such as human IPS-cell derived neurons, ex vivo brain slice cultures and various transgenic and knockout mouse models in order to investigate molecular pathways underlying prion toxicity and pathogenesis.

Keywords: Neurodegeneration, neurotoxicity, prion disease, organotypic brain slice cultures, generation of transgenic and knock-out mouse models, high-throughput screenings

Topic: Disorders of the Nervous System







Prof. Dr. Carlos Alos-Ferrer
Department of Economics, Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research

Research: Carlos Alós-Ferrer’s research foci are neuroeconomics, decision theory, game theory, evolution and learning in games and markets. Neuroeconomics studies the underlying neural processes of decision-making within today’s economic environment. Essential to the further progress of this field is the construction of empirically informed, testable models that connect the level of neural and mental processes underlying decision-making with the descriptive models of choice characterizing modern economics.
Keywords: Neuroeconomics, Decision Theory, Game Theory, Evolution and Learning in Games and Markets

Topics: Neural Basis of Behavior, Cognitive Neuroscience








Prof. Dr. Simon M. Ametamey

Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Animal Imaging Center-PET, ETH Zurich

Research Focus: Research in our group focuses on the development of positron emission tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases in the central nervous system (CNS). Specific research activities include the glutamatergic and the cannabinoid neurotransmission systems. Several established CNS PET ligands are also routinely synthesized and applied for drug development and studying brain functions.

Keywords: PET radioligand, in vivo imaging, drug development, glutamatergic and cannabinoid neurotransmission systems

Topic: Biomedical Technology and Imaging

Publications: pubmed



Irmgard Amrein


PD Dr. Irmgard Amrein
Division of Functional Neuroanatomy, Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich

Research focus: We investigate eco-evolutionary adaptations in the structure of the mammalian hippocampus – How do structural specializations relate to the evolutionary history of animals? How do structural specializations translate into behaviors that allow the animals to successfully compete in their ecological niches? We perform comparative quantitative analysis of functionally defined neuron populations that also includes neurons that are born in adult animals. Most of the animals we study are wild-living species that show unique environmental adaptations. We have been able to define anatomical patterns that characterize taxonomic groups, and within these groups, habitat requirements that can shape quantitative relations between hippocampal cell populations - revealing surprising features that only nature is able to create.

Keywords: hippocampus, behavior, adaptation, phylogeny, stereology, immunohistochemistry, neurogenesis

Topic: Neural Basis of Behavior

Publications: pubmed





Bachmann Ruxandra


Prof. Dr. med. Ruxandra Bachmann-Gagescu
Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Our research focuses on a group of human Mendelian disorders called ciliopathies which are unified by shared genetic causes resulting in primary cilium dysfunction. Primary cilia are small non-motile organelles present on the surface of most vertebrate cells where they are involved in transduction of sensory, mechanical or chemical signals and in regulation of signaling pathways during development and cell homeostasis. Typical clinical presentations of ciliopathies include neurological involvement, retinal degeneration and renal fibrocystic disease, as illustrated by Joubert syndrome (JS), an iconic ciliopathy which is the main focus of our research. To understand the consequences of mutations in JS-associated genes at the molecular level, we combine observations from human genetics studies on JS-patients with modelling in the zebrafish and in human iPSC-derived neurons using state-of-the-art techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing or live imaging of transgenically-tagged ciliary proteins.

Keywords: ciliopathies, primary cilia, Joubert syndrome, zebrafish, iPSC

Topics: Development and Regeneration, Disorders of the nervous system





Prof. Dr. Christian Baumann

Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich


Topic: Sleep and Sleep Disorders



Becher Burkhard


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Burkhard Becher
Institute of experimental Immunology, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Neuro- and Tumorimmunology

Our research aims to understand the development of tissue-specific autoimmunity in particular in the context of interactions of the nervous system with the immune system. Our main research interests can be categorized as such:

  • Cytokine networks in autoimmune inflammatory disease with a focus on in vivo modeling of multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, graft-versus host disease
  • Immune tolerance and lymphoid development
  • Tumorimmunology: specifically the interaction of immune cells with cancer cells and therapeutic interventions to mount immune responses against tumors

Keywords: Transgenic mice, cytokines, immunity

Topic: Disorders of the Nervous System

Publications: pubmed


Susanne Becker


PD Dr. Susanne Becker
Integrative Spinal Research Group, Department of Chiropractic Medicine, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich

Research Focus: The experience of pain is more than the conscious perception of nociceptive signals. Emotional and motivational aspects accompany pain, leading to its aversiveness and motivation for escape and avoidance. Moreover, it has been proposed that a negative hedonic shift, comprising unproportionally increased emotional-motivational pain responses, plays an important role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Our group focuses on the investigation of psychobiological mechanisms of dissociations of emotional-motivational and sensory-discriminative components of pain in health and disease states, using psychophysical methods, pharmacological interventions, and brain imaging techniques. Specifically, we investigate the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine, functional connectivity in fronto-striatal brain networks, and supraspinal neuroinflammation in the proposed negative hedonic shift in chronic pain.

Keywords: pain modulation, emotional-motivational pain processing, dopamine, fMRI, psychophysics

Topic: Cognitive Neuroscience, Sensory Systems





PD Dr. Dietmar Benke

Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich

Research Focus: GABAB receptors control neuronal excitability by mediating slow inhibitory neurotransmission. They are involved in virtually all main brain functions and have been implicated in numerous neurological disorders making them attractive drug targets. Our research focuses on the regulation of GABAB receptors by trafficking mechanisms and interacting proteins under normal and pathological conditions. Our ultimate goal is to uncover mechanisms of GABAB receptor dysregulation in disease states and use this information for designing novel therapeutic strategies. Current projects concentrate on the regulation of GABAB receptor cell surface expression by phosphorylation, ubiquitination and interacting proteins and its contribution to neuronal plasticity. In addition, we explore the potential to prevent downregulation of GABAB receptors in cerebral ischemia with small synthetic peptides interfering with protein-protein interactions as a novel neuroprotective strategy.

Keywords: GABAB receptor, trafficking, plasticity, neurological disorders

Topic: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Publications: pubmed





Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Berger

Institute of Medical Molecular Genetics, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Our research activities are focussing on genetic diseases of the retina. We have identified a number of genes and mutations involved in Mendelian traits. High throughput sequencing technologies (NGS) are used to identify additional mutations and novel genes. Mouse models are being used to study the pathophysiology of monogenic human diseases as a prerequisite to implement therapeutic approaches. Additional areas of research include angiogenic processes in the retina and brain, pre mRNA splicing as well as gene-therapeutic approaches for treatment of retinal degenerations.

Keywords: Eye diseases, genetic associations, therapeutic intervention, retinal development and diseases

Topic: Sensory Systems






Dr. Giovanni Bertolini, Junior Group Leader

Department of Neurology, University of Zurich

Research Focus: The aim of the Swiss Space Travel and AiR Sickness (SSTARS) group is to investigate the mechanism of habituation and learning of self-motion perception in novel motion environments. A novel motion environment is any condition in which our brain fails to correctly interpret the motion stimuli. Such environments (from cars and ships to virtual reality and artificial gravity environments) cause motion sickness, spatial disorientation and other syndromes affecting performance and social interaction (sopite syndrome, mal de débarquement). Within our research activity, we develop non-invasive habituation protocols to counteract these conditions. The applications range from vestibular rehabilitation, acceptance of novel emerging technology (self-driving cars, virtual reality systems), quality of life and safety in transport systems. An important focus is on vestibular physiology for aviation and space flight (in flight, micro- and artificial gravity) in collaboration with the German Aerospace Center – DLR and the Swiss Aeromedical Institute.

Keywords: Motion sickness, vestibular space physiology, artificial gravity, virtual reality sickness, self-motion perception, sensory habituation

Topics: Sensory systems, Disorder of the nervous system, Neural Basis of Behavior





Prof. Dr. Johannes Bohacek

Lab of Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Institute for Neuroscience, ETH Zurich

Research Focus: We are interested in understanding the organism-wide consequences of stress, and how the complex stress-response leads to changes in behavior and increases the risk for neuropsychiatric disease. We use mice as a model organism to study stress-induced effects in the CNS, but also in the germline. We use optogenetic, transcriptomic, pharmacologic, epigenetic and behavioral approaches combined with assisted reproductive techniques.

Keywords: stress, anxiety, transcriptome, hippocampus, epigenetic inheritance, epigenetics

Topics: Neural Basis of Behavior, Disorders of the Nervous System, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Publications: pubmed       


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