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Mayer Lab

Molecular Brain Development


The mammalian brain is a highly complex and spatially heterogeneous structure, which has changed significantly in mammalian evolution. Recent progress in stem cell biology has allowed us to model human brain development in a dish using different organoid protocols thus giving us unprecedented access to study human-specific features of brain development. In the research group Molecular Brain Development, we are interested in revealing how genetic and environmental factors can shape developmental processes in two brain regions, the neocortex and the cerebellum, using human organoids.



Our vision:

We aim to understand how plasticity mechanisms contribute to human brain development in health and disease.

Research projects

March 2022:

Our first Paper is published - congratulations to first author Kseniia Sarieva and the whole team - click here to read the press release (in German).

Dr. Simone Mayer presents our research at the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences and at the NWG Meeting in Göttingen.



December 2022:

We close the year with fantastic news: The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is funding our research project  PCH2cure with 2 Mio. USD. Lead by Dr. Simone Mayer, a team from the Universities of Tübingen and Freiburg as well as the patient organization PCH-Familie will elucidate disease mechanisms that lead to pontocerebellar hypoplasia. See here a press release and a news article in German: Press release of the Heidelberger Acamedy of Sciences and article in Focus.


November 2022:

Many congratulations to Kseniia Sarieva in our group - she was selected as one of 50 fellows by the Joachim Herz Foundation to deepen her interdisciplinary qualification (Add-on Fellowships for Interdisciplinary Life Science).


October 2022:

Our second preprint is online: Human organoid model of PCH2a recapitulates brain region-specific pathology

We share our research with visitors of the Verein der Freunde der Gemeinnützigen Hertie-Stiftung.

Kseniia Sarieva was invited to present her work at the second symposium “Developmental Processes in CNS Plasticity and Pathogenesis” at the Max-Planck-Instituts for the Science of Light.



September 2022:

Dr. Simone Mayer connects with other stem cell researschers at the German Stem Cell Network Conference.


August 2022:

Our first preprint is online: Human brain organoid model of maternal immune activation identifies radial glia cells as selectively vulnerable


July 2022:

Kseniia Sarieva and Theresa Kagermeier present a poster at the FENS Forum in Paris, Frankreich. Zeynep Yentür presents a poster at Neuro2022 in Okinawa, Japan.


June 2022:

Dr. Simone Mayer gives a talk at the Winter School "Stem Cells for Disease Modeling and Regeneration" in Tübingen.


May 2022:

Kseniia Sarieva and Dr. Simone Mayer meet old and new colleagues from all over the world at the Cortical Development Conference in Sicily, Italy.

Kseniia Sarieva was selected to give a talk at the 3R annual conference of the 3R network Baden-Württemberg - congratulations. The whole group join the conference.



April 2022:

Dr. Simone Mayer is presenting at #Talking3RScience Webinar: "Human Organoids for Brain and Retina Research".

We are looking forward to (re)connecting with colleagues at the  International Winter Neuroscience Conference (Dr. Simone Mayer) and 73rd Mosbacher Kolloquium "The World of RNAs - Principles & Applications" (Theresa Kagermeier).

Congratulations to Theresa Kagermeier for winning the poster prize at the 73rd Mosbacher Kolloquium "The World of RNAs - Principles & Applications".


March 2022:

Welcome to our new team members Christina Kulka and Ezgi Atay!

Congratulation for the award of the prestigious Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions Fellowship to our collaboration partner Dr. Ning Zhang in the group of Prof. Dr. Peter Loskill. In collaboration, we will develop a new generation of brain organoid on a microfluidic chip in order to better understand neocortical development and to test pharmaceutical applications.


January 2022:

Welcome to our new goup members Katharina Becker and Felix Hildebrand.


November / December 2021:

Many thanks to our student for their contributions to our work: Maximilian Feige, Lea Fischer, Sarah Hornfeck and Jasmin Treu.


October 2021:

The Studium Generale - lecture series "Faszination Gehirn - Entwicklung, Plastizität und Krankheit" organized by Prof. Birgit Derntl and Dr. Simone Mayer starts. 

Back to conferencing (Dr. Simone Mayer): The Brain Conference: RNA Mechanisms and Brain Disease.


September 2021:

Welcome Maximilian Feige and Sarah Hornfeck in our group!


August 2021:

We have a job opening for a technical assistant in our group - we are looking forward to applications until 5.9.21.


July 2021:

Our review addressing how environmental adversities affecting human brain development can be modeled in organoids has been published. Congratulations to first author Kseniia Sarieva.


June 2021:

We have an open position for a student assistant in our research group - we are looking forward to applications until 13.6.21.


May 2021:

In our interdisciplinary project with Dr. Christian Mahringer (Universität Stuttgart) on Stability and Instability there is an opening for a student assistant - find out more here.


April 2021:

Congratulations to Theresa Kagermeier for receiving a fellowship by the State of Baden-Württemberg (Landesgraduiertenförderung)!

A warm welcome to Jasmin Treu and Lea Fischer in our group.


March 2021:

Clemens Lumper has successfully completed his Master thesis - congratulations, many thanks for the joint work, and all the best for the future!

Dr. Simone Mayer has been awarded a fellowship by the Daimler und Benz Stiftung. We are very thankful for this award and support.


February 2021:

Welcome Zeynep Yentür in our group! Zeynep Yentür is starting her doctoral project funded by the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften - we are looking forward to working together.


January 2021:

We have an open position for a student assistant in our research group - we are looking forward to applications until 8.2.21.

Welcome Theresa Kagermeier in our group! Theresa Kagermeier is starting her doctoral project - we are looking forward to working together.

Dr. Simone Mayer is now a member of the WIN-Kolleg of the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften. Together with Dr. Christian Mahringer (Universität Stuttgart) she will work on the project "Stabilizing and destabilizing processes of change – Insights from brain and software development". Here you find the press releases about this project: University of Tübingen and WIN-Kolleg.


December 2020:

Our postdoc Dr. Shokoufeh Khakipoor is starting a new job at Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE) - thank you very much for the outstanding commitment in our research group and all the best for the next step!


November 2020:

Our research project on pontocerebellar hypoplasia is part of a report in Fokus Online - many thanks to all that support us in this project.

Kseniia Sarieva is learning about the latest developments in single cell analyses at the VIB & LifeTime conference "Emerging Technologies in Single Cell Research".


October 2020:

The parents' initiative PCH-Familie is portrayed by Fokus. We are proud to be working with such committed and impressive parents!

Dr. Simone Mayer is part of the Faculty of the newly established International Max Planck Research School The Mechanisms of Mental Function and Dysfunction­.


September 2020:

Dr. Simone Mayer is presenting at the Bernstein Conference.

We are excited to host the another edition of the Seminar of the Neuro Campus Initiative "The Developing Brain" on 22.09.2020.


August 2020:

A warm welcome for Zeynep Yentuer and Dr. Lucia Laugwitz in our group!

Our group has an open PhD position - we are looking forward to applications (until 21.08.2020).


July 2020:

From 11th to 15th July we are joining the first virtual FENS Forum (Dr. Simone Mayer).

We are looking forward to the talk of Prof. Dr. Urs Meyer, University of Zurich (Host: Dr. Simone Mayer) on 2nd July as part of the series Online Neuro Talks of the TübingenNeuroCampus.


June 2020:

Dr. Simone Mayer shares her experiences with RNAscope in an Online Seminar.

We are looking forward to participating in our first fully virtual conference at ISSCR 2020 - The Global Stem Cell Event.


May 2020:

The Hertie Foundation has talked with Dr. Simone Mayer about her research - check out the interview here.

Our review on new developments in the field of cerebral organoids is online. Many thanks to Drs. Shokoufeh Khakipoor and Elizabeth Crouch for their contributions!


April 2020:

We are excited to host the third Seminar der Neuro Campus Initiative "The Developing Brain" on 21.04.2020. This is also our first virtual seminar!

Many congratulations to Kseniia Sarieva for being awarded the doctoral fellowship of the state of Baden-Württemberg!


March 2020:

A warm welcome to our Master student Clemens Lumper!


February 2020:

Our work is featured in an interview on Neuromag.

Many thanks to our lab rotation student Dionysia Moschou for her contributions to our work!


January 2020:

Dr. Simone Mayer will present as an invited speaker at the Biological Colloquium of the Technical University Kaiserslautern.

 We are excited to host the second Seminar of the Neuro Campus Initiative "Pregnancy and Brain Development" on 21.01.2020


November 2019:

A warm welcome to our first PhD student, Kseniia Sarieva!


Oktober 2019:

Dr. Simone Mayer will present as an invited speaker at the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences at the University of Heidelberg.

Our review "Single-cell RNA-Sequencing in Neuroscience" is online - many thanks to the whole team for their contributions!


September 2019:

We are excited to host the first Seminar of the Neuro Campus Initiative "Pregnancy and Brain Development" on 24.9.19.

Dr. Simone Mayer is looking forward to joining the PhD student symposium "Horizons in Molecular Biology" as a speaker.


July 2019:

Many thanks to our interns Daniel Cozetto and Maxim Drömer for their contributions!


June 2019:

At the TNC Research Day we are excited to discuss with other scientists in Tübingen about brain development.


June 2019:

Research spotlight on our recent paper on multimodal single-cell analysis published. Check it out here!


May 2019:

Dr. Simone Mayer is participating in the Launch Event of the LifeTime Initiative in Berlin. Excited to join a European effort!


March 2019:

Dr. Shokoufeh Khakipoor is participating in the Workshop "Computational Single Cell Genomics" in Munich (26.-27.3.).

Dr. Simone Mayer and Dr. Cristiana Cruceanu are chairing a Symposium at the German Neuroscience Society meeting: "From normal brain development to pathology: what role does the environment play?" Interested? Join us on 21.3.19, 14.30-16.30 in Göttingen.


February 2019:

Publication of Simone's Multimodal Single Cell Analysis paper from the Kriegstein Lab. You can also check out its coverage on BrainPost.


January 2019:

Welcome to the Mayer lab, Elisabeth Gustafsson and Dr. Shokoufeh Khakipoor! 


August 2018:

Dr. Simone Mayer has been awarded the 2018 Young Investigator Award of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for research on intercellular communication in neocortical development.


In the research group Molecular Brain Development, we aim to reveal how genetic and environmental factors can shape developmental processes in two brain regions, the neocortex and the cerebellum, using human organoids. Neocortical networks are at the heart of cognitive function, but their dysfunction is also a cause for a plethora of psychiatric and neurological disorders. While we have recently gained significant insights into the contribution of genetically “hard-wired” mechanisms of proliferation, differentiation, and maturation in the neocortex, less is known about the degree to which environmental influences affect neocortical development, especially in humans. We aim to understand how the brain can adapt to such changes using "plasticity" mechanisms in health and disease. Our long-term goal is to identify factors that boost the resilience of neocortical development and thus help to prevent neurodevelopmental disorders. Moreover, we are also interested in revealing human-specific features of cerebellar development, a brain region that has not been studies extensively to date. In collaboration with clinicians, we aim to understand how the development of the cerebellum is affected in a rare pediatric neurological disorder, pontocerebellar hypoplasia.


We would like to thank the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the Daimler and Benz Foundation, the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, the State of Baden Württemberg (Landesgraduiertenförderung) und PCH-Familie for supporting our research.

If you are interested in a Bachelor, Master or PhD thesis in the lab, please send an email stating your research interests together with your CV to Dr. Simone Mayer (


Mayer lab team, Summer 2019

Research Group
 Ezgi Atay
Ezgi AtayMaster Student
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071-

 Katharina Becker
Katharina BeckerTechnical Assistant
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071-

 Ann-Kathrin Grotegerd
Ann-Kathrin GrotegerdMaster Student
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071-

 Elisabeth Gustafsson
Elisabeth GustafssonLab Manager
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071

 Felix Hildebrand
Felix HildebrandBachelor Student
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071

 Justina Jüttner
Justina JüttnerBachelor Student
Molecular Brain Development

+49(0) 7071-

 Theresa Kagermeier
Theresa KagermeierPhD Student
Molecular Brain Development

 Christina Kulka
Christina KulkaMaster Student
Molecular Brain Development

Dr. Simone Mayer
Dr. Simone MayerResearch Group Leader
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071

 Kseniia Sarieva
Kseniia SarievaPhD Student
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071

 Zeynep Yentuer
Zeynep YentuerPhD Student
Molecular Brain Development

+49 (0)7071-


All Publications.


Selected Original Publications

Kilisch M, Mayer S, Mitkovski M, Roehse, H, Hentrich, J, Schwappach, B, Papadopoulos, T. A GTPase-induced switch in phospholipid affinity of collybistin contributes to synaptic gephyrin clustering. J Cell Sci. 2020 Jan 13.

Jurek B, Chayka M, Kreye J, Lang K, Kraus L, Fidzinski P, Kornau HC, Dao LM, Wenke NK, Long M, Rivalan M, Winter Y, Leubner J, Herken J, Mayer S, Mueller S, Boehm-Sturm P, Dirnagl U, Schmitz D, Kölch M, Prüss H. Human gestational NMDAR autoantibodies impair neonatal murine brain function. Ann Neurol.  2019 Nov;86(5):656-670.

Schirmer L*, Velmeshev D*, Holmqvist S, Kaufmann M, Werneburg S, Jung D, Vistnes S, Stockley JH, Young A, Steindel M, Tung B, Goyal N, Bhaduri A, Mayer S, Engler JB, Bayraktar OA, Franklin RJM, Haeussler M, Reynolds R, Schafer DP, Friese MA, Shiow LR, Kriegstein AR, Rowitch DH. Neuronal vulnerability and multilineage diversity in multiple sclerosis. Nature. 2019 Jul 17.

Sorrells SF, Paredes MF, Velmeshev D, Herranz-Pérez V, Sandoval K, Mayer S, Chang EF, Insausti R, Kriegstein AR, Rubenstein JL, Manuel Garcia-Verdugo J, Huang EJ, Alvarez-Buylla A. Immature excitatory neurons develop during adolescence in the human amygdala. Nat Commun, 2019 Jun 21;10(1):2748.

Velmeshev D, Schirmer L, Jung D, Haeussler M, Perez Y, Mayer S, Bhaduri A, Goyal N, Rowitch DH, Kriegstein AR. Single-Cell Genomics Identifies Cell Type-Specific Molecular Changes in Autism. Science, 2019 May 17;364(6441):685-689.

Mayer S*, Chen J*, Velmeshev D, Mayer, A, Eze U, Paredes MF, Alvarado B, Wang S, Cunha CE, Lovegren N, Gonzales ML, Szpankowski, L, Leyrat, A,West, JAA, Alvarez-Buylla A, Nowakowski TJ, Pollen AA, Kriegstein AR. Multimodal single-cell analysis reveals physiological maturation in the developing human neocortex. Neuron, 2019 Apr 3;102(1):143-158.

Sorrells SF*, Paredes MF*, Cebrian-Silla A, Sandoval K, Qi D, Kelley KW, James D, Mayer S, Chang J, Auguste KI, Chang E, Gutierrez Martin AJ, Kriegstein AJ, Mathern GW, Oldham M, Huang EJ, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Yang Z, Alvarez-Buylla A. Human hippocampal neurogenesis drops sharply in children to undetectable levels in adults. Nature, 2018 Mar 15; 555(7696):377-381.

Mayer S, Kumar R, Jaiswal M, Soykan T, Ahmadian MR, Brose N, Betz H, Rhee JS, Papadopoulos T. Collybistin activation by GTP-TC10 enhances postsynaptic gephyrin clustering and hippocampal GABAergic neurotransmission. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Dec 17; 110(51):20795-800.

Kang HJ*, Kawasawa YI*, Cheng F*, Zhu Y*, Xu X*, Li M*, Sousa AM, Pletikos M, Meyer KA, Sedmak G, Guennel T, Shin Y, Johnson MB, Krsnik Z, Mayer S, Fertuzinhos S, Umlauf S, Lisgo SN, Vortmeyer A, Weinberger DR, Mane S, Hyde TM, Huttner A, Reimers M, Kleinman JE, Sestan N. Spatiotemporal transcriptome of the human brain. Nature 2011 Oct 26; 478(7370):483-9.



Sarieva K, Mayer S. The Effects of Environmental Adversities on Human Neocortical Neurogenesis Modeled in Brain Organoids. Front Mol Biosci. 2021 Jun 24;8:686410.

Khakipoor S, Crouch EE, Mayer S. Human organoids to model the developing human neocortex in health and disease. Brain Res. 2020.

Khakipoor S, Drömer MA, Cozetto DA, Mayer S. Single-cell RNA-Sequencing in Neuroscience.Neuroforum. 2019 Nov 06 , 25(4), 251-258.

Paredes MF*, Sorrells SF*, Cebrian-Silla A, Sandoval K, Qi D, Kelley KW, James D, Mayer S, Chang J, Auguste KI, Chang EF, Gutierrez Martin AJ, Kriegstein AR, Mathern GW, Oldham MC, Huang EJ, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Yang Z, Alvarez-Buylla A. Does Adult Neurogenesis Persist in the Human Hippocampus? Cell Stem Cell, 2018 Dec 6;23(6):780-78.

Mayer S, Kriegstein AR. The expansion of the cortical sheet in primates. In: Kaas, J (ed.), Evolution of Nervous Systems, 2e. vol. 3, pp. 59–71. Oxford: Elsevier. 2016.

Research Group Leader
Dr. Simone MayerPhone +49 (0)7071 29-88870si.mayer@uni-tuebingen.deAddress

Molecular Brain Development
Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research

Otfried-Müller-Str. 25
72076 Tübingen