The Department is headed by Professor Mathias Jucker and was founded in 2003. The research focus is on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, with a special emphasis on the pathogenesis of Alzheimer´s disease and other cerebral amyloidoses. Alzheimer's disease is the most frequently occurring age-related dementia, with more than 1 million people affected in Germany. It was in Tübingen that Alois Alzheimer first described the disease to his colleagues in 1906. To mark this occasion, the Department of Cellular Neurology hosted a centennial symposium in 2006 (Alzheimer: 100 Years and Beyond). As of 2010 our department is also part of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).
Currently our department is composed of four research groups and one core unit: The Amyloid Biology group studies the molecular mechanisms of amyloid formation using in vitro and biochemical methods. The Experimental Neuropathology group uses transgenic mouse models to analyze the pathomechanisms of Alzheimer´s disease and cerebral amyloidoses. The Molecular Imaging group studies how Alzheimer´s disease lesions and neurodegeneration develop over time in the transgenic mouse models using in vivo multiphoton microscopy. The Fluid Disease Biomarkers group uses immunoassays to identify early biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood of mouse models and human subjects with Alzheimer´s disease and related disorders. The Experimental Neuroimmunology group works on aspects of innate immunity in the aging brain and in neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, the core unit supports the department with mouse genotyping, ELISA measurements, and other technical and administrative activities. A mini-department for our little ones, i.e. a playroom, has recently been added.
We are primarily a department of basic research with a focus on preclinical investigations of disease mechanisms. To foster the translation of our research to clinical applications, we partnered with the University Clinic of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy to establish the Section for Dementia Research with its Memory Clinic. Moreover, we are coordinating the international Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) study in Germany, which aims to understand the rare genetic forms of Alzheimer’s disease by longitudinal analysis of gene mutation carriers and non-mutation carrier siblings. Understanding this type of Alzheimer's disease is expected to provide important clues to the development of the more common sporadic form of Alzheimer´s disease.
Our department hosts scientists from more than 10 nations, ranging from short-term fellows, master students, PhD and MD students to postdoctoral fellows and group leaders. This diversity, along with our extensive expertise in brain aging and neurodegenerative disease, creates a socially and intellectually stimulating intramural environment that is also highly competitive extramurally.
About the department: Hamburger Wissenschaftspreis 2013