Research topics:

  • Biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease and related disorders

  • Development of experimental therapies for PD and ALS: from cell cultures to clinical studies

  • Mechanisms of axonal degeneration: role of autophagy and axonal transport

  • Transition metals as pathogenic factors in Parkinson’s disease

  • Axonal regeneration in CNS projections


Some of Our Current Research Questions:

  • What is the role of calcium, CRMP2 and specific autophagy proteins in axonal degeneration? Read More >

  • Can we improve imaging readouts in living animals to better understand axonal pathology? Read More >

  • Are Rho kinase inhibitors putative treatment targets in PD, ALS and CNS trauma? Read More >

  • How does alpha-synuclein regulate axonal stability, regeneration, autophagy, vesicle release? Read More >

  • How does alpha-synuclein interact with transition metals in vitro and in vivo? Read More >

  • Can we improve the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease using innovative biomarkers? Read More >

Tools & Models:

  • In vitro: primary cell cultures (RGC, MDN, HC, cortex), scratch model for regeneration, nucleofection of primary neurons, molecular biology, protein analysis

  • In vivo: ON axotomy, ON crush, peripheral nerve graft, spinal cord hemisection, ALS mouse model (SOD1 G93A), PD models (6-OHDA, MPTP, A53T, A30P), AAV-mediated gene transfer and gene knockdown, gene regulation by siRNA and miRNA, stereotactical brain injections

  • Imaging: life-imaging of the optic nerve, synchrotron-based XRF and SAXS of primary cultures and tissue

  • Collection of biological samples (CSF, blood, tear fluid) for biomarker analyses in Parkinson’s disease and related disorders

  • Development of experimental therapies for PD and ALS: translation from preclinical studies to clinical trials


A: Life-imaging of the optic nerve permits to visualize single axons and follows their degeneration over several hours (Koch 2011 Nature Protocols).
B: The MPTP model is a prime example for a toxin-based animal model, which we use to assess the effects of novel therapeutic substances, e.g. the rho kinase inhibitor Fasudil (Tönges 2012 Brain).
C: Synchrotron radiation is a powerful tool for the generation of high-resolution x-ray fluorescence images, e.g. to study the subcellular distribution of trace metals (Ducic 2015 ACS Chem Neurosci).
D: Cerebrospinal fluid is used as a source for biomarkers, which is analysed, e.g for elemental content by ICP-MS and for small RNA by next-generation sequencing.


  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Bonn

  • Dr. Asunción Carmona

  • Prof. Dr. Donato Di Monte

  • Dr. Rosanna Dono

  • Prof. Dr. André Fischer

  • Dr. Sebastian Kügler

  • Dr. Andreas Leha

  • Dr. Christof Lenz

  • Prof. Dr. Katrin Marcus

  • Prof. Dr. Bernhard Michalke

  • Prof. Dr. Uwe Michel

  • Prof. Dr. Hans Werner Müller

  • Dr. Richard Ortega

  • Prof. Dr. Tiago Outeiro

  • Prof. Dr. Silvio Rizzoli

  • Prof. Dr. Tim Salditt

  • Prof. Dr. Henning Urlaub

  • Prof. Dr. Markus Weber

  • Prof. Dr. Inga Zerr

  • Prof. Dr. Markus Zweckstetter