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Department of Neuropathology

The knowledge on pathological processes in the central nervous system is fundamental for the development of effective therapeutic strategies. Therefore, research is an essential part of the activities within the Dept. Neuropathology. Main focus of our research is the immune system of the brain. Several groups investigate the molecular basis with different approaches.

Research Groups

The AG Innate Immunity (Head: Prof. Dr. M. Prinz) focuses on the role of the brain specific innate immune system by using mouse models of multiple sclerosis (EAE model), toxic de- and remyelination and neurodegenation, e.g. Alzheimers disease.

The metabolism and inflammation group of Prof. Dr. Groß studies the fundamental mechanisms of innate immune mediated inflammatory responses. A special focus of our work is on the biology of the inflammasome at the molecular, cellular and systemic level. The inflammasome is a intracellular signaling complex which controls the production of the potent inflammatory messenger interleukin 1 and thus plays a central role in the initiation of inflammation. In recent projects, we are studying the role of different inflammasomes in autoimmune disease, the interaction of cellular metabolism with the immune system, and the role of mitochondria in immune cell signaling.

The AG Molecular Genetics (Head: PD Dr. K.P.Knobeloch) aims to understand the molecular and biological function of distinct components of the Ubiquitin- and Ubiquitin like systems within the context of the whole organism.

The AG Protein Biophysics & Biochemistry (Head: PD Dr. G. Fritz) explores the structural basis of signal transduction in the context of neurodegenerative and disorders and tumor development. A further key aspect of investigation is the structural analysis of respiratory complexes of pathogenic bacteria.

The AG Cellular and Molecular Neuroimmunology (Head PD Dr. Blank) is working to develop a better understanding of the complex interaction between the immune system and the central nervous system with a view to neurodegenerative, mental, cognitive and developmental disorders. Special attention is paid to cytokines, chemokines and the CNS-resident macrophages, the microglia, which are particularly sensitive against neuronal stress and injuries.

The Freiburg single-cell omics unit (Co-founder and contact person Dr. Roman Sankowski and Dr. Gianni Monaco) is an interdisciplinary platform with expertise across multiple single-cell techniques to drive systems-level understanding of the mammalian organism at the single cell level. A major goal is to advance the insights into cellular biology for both basic  and translational research questions, refining the single-cell methodology and providing optimized pipelines for thorough analysis, thus ultimately accelerating single-cell multiomics projects in a time and resource efficient way.

The Quintana lab is focused on the characterization of signaling pathways that control the activity of the immune system in the brain, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for immune-mediated disorders. To this aim, they use genomic and proteomic tools to the study zebrafish, murine and human disease models of inflammation. Francisco J. Quintana, Ph.D. is a Professor of Neurology at the Center for Neurologic Diseases, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and an Associate Member at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He is Mercator Fellow in the CRC/TRR 167 dedicated to immune cell profiling in the CNS: www.sfb-trr167.uni-freiburg.de/people/mercator-fellow/ . Since 2017, he acts as honorary professor at the Institute of Neuropathology: www.uniklinik-freiburg.de/neuropathology/research.html . This fruitful collaboration led to several outstanding publications in the field of Neuroimmunology (Wheeler et al. Nature 2020, Clark et al. Science 2021, Prinz et al. Annu Rev Immunol 2021).


Further information

Please find further infomation on the Dept. Neuropathology's research activites on the Research database of the Freiburg University Hospital.