This website uses cookies

We use cookies and website tracking tools to provide you with the best online experience. Learn more in our /en/news/hih-news/privacy-notice/privacy statement.

if you accept, your choice will be valid until cancellation.

If you disallow cookies, functionality of our website might be limited.


Molecular Brain Development


The mammalian neocortex is a highly complex and spatially heterogeneous structure, which has expanded significantly in mammalian evolution. Neocortical network function is at the heart of cognitive function and the increased complexity of the human neocortex may also have contributed to the emergence of a plethora of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Since major differences in brain anatomy and hence function between species arise during development, it is crucial to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing cortical development. While we have recently gained significant insights into the contribution of genetically "hard-wired" mechanisms of proliferation, differentiation, and maturation, less is known about the degree to which plasticity through neurotransmitter-mediated signaling influences cortical development.


Our vision:

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

Research projects

October 2021:

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


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.

Our projects focus on understanding how neurotransmitters modulate mammalian cortical development, evolution and disease emergence. We employ a large range of methodologies ranging from single-cell RNA-Sequencing to immunohistochemistry, live cell imaging, and mass spectrometry on cells and tissue samples from animal models and patient donations. In order to achieve this, we collaborate with experts in the fields of bioinformatics, biophysics, and biochemistry, as well as clinicians.

We would like to thank Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the state of Baden-Württemberg (Landesgraduiertenförderung) and 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
 Elisabeth Gustafsson
Elisabeth GustafssonLab Manager
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-89191 
Bachelor Student Felix Hildebrand
Bachelor Student Felix Hildebrand
Molecular Brain Development
 Theresa Kagermeier
Theresa KagermeierPhD Student
Molecular Brain Development
Dr. Simone Mayer
Dr. Simone MayerGroup Leader
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-88870 
 Kseniia Sarieva
Kseniia SarievaPhD Student
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-89191 
 Zeynep Yentuer
Zeynep YentuerPhD Student
Molecular Brain Development

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.

Head of Research GroupResearch 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