Team EPD


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.

  • 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
  • 2011 – 2015: 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
  • 2006 – 2011: PhD in cell biology and biochemistry with Dr. Matthias Seedorf, University of Heidelberg, Center for Molecular Biology, Heidelberg, Germany. Unconventional trafficking of proteins
  • 2004 – 2006: 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

Dr. Roberta Marisca

Postdoctoral Researcher

 Short Bio
  • 2017 – 2021: PhD in neuroscience with Dr. Tim Czopka at the Technical University of Munich studying mechanisms of axon-oligodendrocyte precursor cell interaction in vivo. Enrolled in the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany.
  • 2014 – 2016: Double-degree Master of Science in molecular biology and genetics at the University of Padua, Italy, and the Paris Diderot University, France. Thesis work on the circadian clock in drosophila at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, France.
  • 2010 – 2014: Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Messina, Italy.

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

Janina Breining

Research Assistant

 Short Bio
  • 2021 – 2022: Master’s thesis at the Zoological Institute, Dept. of Cell and Neurobiology at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany, in the field of schizophrenia research
  • 2018 – 2022: Master of Science in Biology at KIT with a focus on molecular biology, cell biology, and developmental biology
  • 2019: Student intern at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), Tamanoi lab, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • 2015 – 2018: Bachelor of Science in Biology at KIT

Lea Kubitz


 Short Bio
  • 2020 – present: Master’s degree in Biochemistry at Heidelberg University
  • 2020 – 2021: Visiting Student at the University of Cambridge
  • 2017 – 2020: Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at Heidelberg University

Mathias Nordbeck


 Short Bio
  • 2021 – today: Master of Science in Molecular Biosciences (Major Neuroscience), Heidelberg University, Germany
  • 2022: Student Research Assistant in Neuron – Glia Interactions and Myelination in the laboratory of Dr. Amit Agarwal, Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany
  • 2017 – 2021: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Hamburg University, Germany

Team EPD Alumni

At BioMed X we care for the people who work with us. Staying in touch with those who left but mainly contributed to BioMed X’s success is key. That’s why they have their designated place on our website. So let’s keep connected!

Raquel Moll-Diaz


Dr. Silvia De Cicco

Dr. Federico Tinarelli


Gökçe Nihan Yildirim


Ines Schendel


Çinar Efe Sümer


Tejas A. Sawant

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