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.

Our Team Members

Dr. Ebru Ercan-Herbst

Group Leader

  • Short Bio
    • 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
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Dr. Silvia De Cicco

Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Short Bio
    • 2015-2019: PhD with Dr. Michela Deleidi in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Graduate Training Centre of Neuroscience/International Max Planck Research School, Tübingen, Germany
    • 2014-2015: Postgraduate Fellow with Dr. Angela Gritti at Gene/neural stem cell therapy for neurodegenerative diseases unit, TIGET, San Raffaele Institute
    • 2011-2014: Master of Science Degree with Dr. Angela Gritti in Molecular and Cellular Medical Biotechnology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan, Italy
      Division of Gene/neural stem cell therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, TIGET, San Raffaele Institute
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Dr. Federico Tinarelli

Postdoctoral Researcher

Gökçe Nihan Yildirim

Research Assistant

  • Short Bio
    • 2019-2020: Master´s Thesis at DKFZ, Division of Molecular Neurogenetics, Heidelberg, Germany
    • 2017-2020: Master of Science in Molecular Biosciences, Major Neuroscience, Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg, Germany
    • 2016: Student researcher, Roskilde University, Denmark
    • 2013-2017: Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey
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Martina von der Bey

PhD Student

  • Short Bio
    • 2019: Master’s Thesis at Boehringer Ingelheim, CNS Diseases Research, Biberach, Germany
    • 2017-2019: Master of Science in Molecular and Translational Neuroscience, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
    • 2013-2016: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
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Raquel Moll-Diaz

Master’s Student

  • Short Bio
    • 2019-present: Master of Science in Translational Medical Research, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg, Germany.
    • 2018-2019: Research internship in skin microbiome at S-biomedic, JLABS, Beerse, Belgium.
    • 2017-2018: Bachelor thesis “Arrestins as adaptor molecules between Nedd4.2 and the glutamate transporter EAAT2: Role in Lafora’s disease”, CSIC-IBV, Valencia, Spain
    • 2014-2018: Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain
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Çinar Efe Sümer

Master's Student

  • Short Bio
    • 2018 October- today : Molecular Biosciences Master’s Program Major in Neuroscience at Heidelberg University, Heidelberg Germany
    • November 2018- March 2019: M.Sc. Research Assistant in German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Division of Molecular Neurobiology, Im Neuenheimer Feld 581, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
    • 2014 September – 2018 June: B.S. Degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, Turkey
    • June 2016 – October 2016: Undergraduate Research Assistant in Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital Mailman Research Center, 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478, USA
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