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Group of Bertram Bengsch


Prof. Dr. Dr. Bertram Bengsch (Group leader)   0761/270-32800    
Dr. Maryam Barsch (Clinician Scientist) 0761/270-34010
Anna Büttgenbach (PhD student)  0761/270-35110    
Anna Hipp (MD student)  0761/270-35110    
Saskia Killmer (Mass cytometrie specialist, technical head) 0761/270-35090
Laurenz Krimmel (MD student)  0761/270-35110
Andreea Mesesan (PhD student)  0761/270-35110
Patricia Otto-Mora (MTA) 0761/270-35090
Nisha Rana (Bioinformatician) 0761/270-35090
Henrike Salié (MD student) 0761/270-35110    
Marilyn Salvat Lago (Mass cytometrie specialist) 0761/270-35090
Lea Seidel (PhD student) 0761/270-33960  
Emilia Schlaak (MD student) 0761/270-35110
Jonas Stritzker (MD Scientist) 0761/270-34010
Frances Winkler (PhD student) 0761/270-35110
Lara Wischer (MD student) 0761/270-35110
Zhen Zhang (PhD student) 0761/270-35110


In addition, we work in close cooperation with the group of Robert Thimme.

Translational Systems Immunology in Hepatogastroenterology

The immune system is key to the understanding of many infectious, autoimmune and malignant diseases. In the lab, we study how the immune system responds to these challenges with the goal to translate this better understanding to inform therapeutic decisions, such as during immunotherapy, and identify cellular mechanisms controlling immune function to reveal additional targets for the manipulation of immune responses. We utilize advanced single-cell profiling approaches including mass cytometry and imaging mass cytometry in combination with algorithmic deconvolution of the dense data sets.

Diseases currently studied in the lab:

  • Acute and chronic viral hepatitis (focus on HBV and HCV infection)
  • COVID19
  • Inflammatory Bowel disease
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis
  • Autoimmune Hepatitis
  • Checkpoint-Blockade - associated adverse immune hepatitis and enteritis
  • Malignant Melanoma

A major focus in the lab is centered on understanding exhausted T cells (TEX), which constitute a T cell lineage distinct from functional memory and effector cells that is characterized by co-expression of immunoregulatory molecules, an altered transcriptional and epigenetic landscape and reduced effector and memory functionality. We have demonstrated that bioenergetic regulation through immune checkpoints (e.g., PD-1) is an important driver of exhaustion. Further, we have demonstrated heterogeneity and disease associations of different varieties of exhausted T cells in humans that are impacted by therapy. Ongoing projects currently focus on understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying the differential usage of immunometabolism in different subtypes of T cells and understanding the role of peripheral and tissue-resident immune populations.

We work closely together with the Freiburg Liver Immunology research groups. Our lab runs the Freiburg Mass Cytometry Unit.



  • Sonderforschungsbereich-TRR179 (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
  • Sonderforschungsbereich 1160: IMPATH (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)
  • Exzellenzcluster BIOSS und CIBSS (Centre for integrative Signaling Studies) 
  • German Mass Cytometry Network (GERMANET)