Category Archives: News

Welcome to the lab

This is to welcome two new colleagues to the lab. Petr Unichenko is joining as a postdoctoral research fellow and Katharina Hill as a medical student.

Congratulations and bye-bye

Steffi's defenseCongratulations to Steffi for the glorious finish of her PhD thesis today. The final verdict after her defense, which for some reason included a short discussion of the sturgeon habenula, was a fully-deserved summa cum laude. Great!

Unfortunately for us, Steffi will also move on in a few days and leave the very cool ivory tower of science to work with Bayer.

Heparan sulfates and astrocytes

Just before the end 2016 we received the very welcome news that our study on the role of heparan sulfates got accepted for publication. Together with the lab of Alexander Dityatev we uncovered that heparan sulfates are required for the integrity of the axon initial segment of CA1 pyramidal cells. Their lack leads to reduced pyramidal cell excitability, reduced synaptic plasticity, altered theta oscillations in vivo and impaired context discrimination (link). The end of the year also saw the publication of a few other collaboration projects including the effect of dopamine on the Ca2+ signalling of hippocampal astrocytes (link) and the coupling properties of thalamic astrocytes (link) among others.

Please also see our selected Publications for more details.

New lab members and new lab picture

This is to welcome two new PhD students to the lab. Catia Domingos will be primarily working on molecular signals that acutely modify astrocyte morphology whereas Alberto Pauletti will look into the relationship between astrocyte morphology and astrocyte gap junction coupling.

And here is the group this autumn …

Claire is now Dr King

… and another welcome opportunity to celebrate. Claire passed the thesis oral examination yesterday. For the past years she has explored ‘The role of resting Ca2+ in astrocyte Ca2+ signalling’ and now she is Dr King. Well done and congratulations!

More things to celebrate

It is time for a new round of congratulations.

2015-09 11705454_1071374449556962_4064259067544279055_p The first two go to Eva and Björn who were MSc students in the lab for the past months working on astrocyte Ca2+ signaling and potassium clearance. ‘Were’ because their theses have been written, corrected and submitted and we are fairly certain we will have to address them by their appropriate title ‘Master’ soon.

The third goes to Michel. He successfully applied for a young investigator grant within the DFG SPP1757 on glial heterogeneity and now got some money for a student assistant for six months (research assistant job ad).

Well done everybody!

New group picture

Group picture 2015We finally managed to have our BBQ. A good opportunity to take a new group picture. From left to right Daniel, Christian, Anne, Michel, Kirsten, Steffi, Björn, Eva and Claire. A very casual picture. But still an improvement from last year’s “Orgelpfeifen”.


… to our collaborators here in Bonn in the lab of Christian Steinhäuser who uncovered a previously unknown contribution of astrocyte dysfunction to human epilepsy. Please see Publications for a link to the paper in Brain. And also congratulations to the lab of Colin Jackson at the ANU (Canberra, Australia) who successfully used ancestral protein reconstruction to design a novel optical arginine sensor. The paper is currently in press in Protein Science.

New lab members

Eva-Maria Schönhense (MSc. student), Björn Breithausen (MSc. student) and Anne Boehlen (PhD) have joined the lab to work on astrocyte Ca2+ signalling and potassium dynamics. Welcome aboard!

Optical sensor development at ANU

Funded by HFSP and DAAD we aANU sensor team + Michelre developing and testing optical sensors for neurotransmitters and other signalling molecules in the brain. Actually our collaborators in Austra (lab of Harald Janovjak, IST) and Australia (lab of Colin Jackson, ANU) are doing the hard work of designing the sensors while we test their suitability for imaging in intact tissue. To get a better understanding of what our colleagues at ANU are doing and to learn how to synthesize sensors ourselves here in Bonn we paid them a visit in November.

Needless to say it was quite pleasant to swap a northern hemisphere November for spring in Australia. More importantly, we now know how to produce the optical sensors ourselves. Also a first manuscript is nicely shaping up (sensor team ANU from left to right William Zhang, Jason Whitfield, Michel Herde (UKB), Colin Jackson, Ben Clifton).