Neuroscience

Team EPD: Early Intervention in Psychiatric Diseases

Neurodevelopmental disorders occur due to impairments of the brain development or a damage and affect learning ability, self-control, emotion and memory. A normal brain development involves proliferation and migration of the cells which occur mostly during prenatal life and arborization (circuit formation) and myelination taking place through the first two post-natal decades, which spans childhood and adolescence. Therefore, childhood and adolescence represent a critical developmental phase in the emergence of psychiatric diseases. Therapeutic pharmacological intervention during this period of change in brain structure and function could normalize brain maturation and improve the disease trajectory.

Schizophrenia as being a neurodevelopmental disorder, shows aberrations not only in structure, wiring and chemistry of multiple neuronal systems but also in myelination. And these changes happen long before clinical symptoms of the disease appear in early adult life. Accumulating evidence implicates that brains of Schizophrenia patients and people having clinical high risk for developing schizophrenia show decreased white matter volume, suggesting a deficit in myelination.

Our group is interested in deciphering the causes of this so far untapped pathology occurring due to myelination deficits. Our aim is to develop in vitro and in vivo platforms to study oligodendrocyte development and myelination and utilize these platforms to identify extrinsic (neuronal) and intrinsic (oligodendrocytic) factors affecting myelination in Schizophrenia.

Mentors

  • Prof. Dr. Bastian Hengerer
    Director CNS Diseases Research at Boehringer Ingelheim (Industry mentor)
  • Prof. Dr. Leda Dimou
    Head of the Master’s programme Molecular and Translational Neuroscience, University of Ulm, Germany (Academic mentor)
The research of this team is kindly sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.
The research of this team is kindly sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Our Team Members

Dr. Ebru Ercan-Herbst

Group Leader

Previous work
  • 2015-2019: Postdoctoral researcher, Tau-Mediated Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s Disease, BioMed X, Germany
  • 20112015: Postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience with Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, Dept. of Neurobiology, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. Neuron-oligodendrocyte interactions and myelination in autism spectrum disorders
  • 20062011: PhD in cell biology and biochemistry with Dr. Matthias Seedorf, University of Heidelberg, Center for Molecular Biology, Heidelberg, Germany. Unconventional trafficking of proteins
  • 20042006: Master of Science in Molecular Bioengineering, Technical University of Dresden. Thesis work at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany