Vascular Biology – PI: Jürgen Bernhagen
We are interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms of cardiovascular disease and inflammation. A focus is on the role of atypical chemokines, inflammatory signaling pathways, and leukocyte recruitment processes in atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory condition of arterial vessels and the main underlying condition of ischemic stroke. We study these mechanisms from basic vascular biology to clinical translation.
We have discovered the cytokine MIF in inflammatory and vascular disease and have characterized it as a protagonistic member of the class of ‘atypical chemokines’. Relying on biochemical and vascular biology methodologies in combination with transgenic mouse models and clinical approaches, we broadly study the MIF protein family (i.e. MIF, MIF-2/D-DT, CXCR2, CXCR4, CXCR7, CD74, sCD74) and related classical chemokines in atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, and myocardial infarction. This involves deciphering the receptor complexes and pathways driving atherogenic recruitment of leukocyte sub-populations, but we also focus on site- and disease-specific oxidized iso-forms as encountered under ischemic/oxidative stress as well as on chemokine-like alarmins such as HMGB1.
Another focus is on atheroprotective signaling pathways maintained by the COP9 signalosome (CSN) in atherogenic endothelium. The CSN is a multi-functional protein complex that regulates SCF cullin-RING E3-ligase (CRL) NEDDylation status, controlling ubiquitin/26S-proteasome-mediated degradation of cell-regulatory proteins. Based on our discovery of a link between CSN5/JAB1 and inflammation, we currently study atheroprotective effects of CSN5 via NFκB signaling.
We are also interested in cardioprotective mechanisms of some of these mediators and how they compare with corresponding effects in ischemic stroke and cerebral-/(micro)vascular pathogenesis but also other inflammatory diseases. Lastly, capitalizing on various collaborations, we increasingly pursue links between inflammation and neurodegeneration, i.e. inflammasome and amyloid/chaperone-type mechanisms.
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Jürgen Bernhagen
Secretary: Sabrina Lukanovic
Publications by Jürgen Bernhagen
Schindler L, Zwissler L, Krammer C, Hendgen-Cotta U, Rassaf T, Hampton MB, Dickerhof N, Bernhagen J. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor inhibits neutrophil apoptosis by inducing cytokine release from mononuclear cells. J Leukoc Biol. 2021 Feb 10. doi: 10.1002/JLB.3A0420-242RRR. Epub ahead of print.
Kontos C, El Bounkari O, Krammer C, Sinitski D, Hille K, Zan C, Yan G, Wang S, Gao Y, Brandhofer M, Megens RTA, Hoffmann A, Pauli J, Asare Y, Gerra S, Bourilhon P, Leng L, Eckstein HH, Kempf WE, Pelisek J, Gokce O, Maegdefessel L, Bucala R, Dichgans M, Weber C, Kapurniotu A, Bernhagen J. Designed CXCR4 mimic acts as a soluble chemokine receptor that blocks atherogenic inflammation by agonist-specific targeting. Nat Commun. 2020 Nov 25;11(1):5981.
Sinitski D, Gruner K, Brandhofer M, Kontos C, Winkler P, Reinstädler A, Bourilhon P, Xiao Z, Cool R, Kapurniotu A, Dekker FJ, Panstruga R, Bernhagen J. Cross-kingdom mimicry of the receptor signaling and leukocyte recruitment activity of a human cytokine by its plant orthologs. J Biol Chem. 2020 Jan 17;295(3):850-867.
Schmitz C, Noels H, El Bounkari O, Straussfeld E, Megens RTA, Sternkopf M, Alampour-Rajabi S, Krammer C, Tilstam PV, Gerdes N, Bürger C, Kapurniotu A, Bucala R, Jankowski J, Weber C, Bernhagen J*. Mif-deficiency favors an atheroprotective autoantibody phenotype in atherosclerosis. FASEB J. 2018 Aug;32(8):4428-4443.
Roth S, Singh V, Tiedt S, Schindler L, Huber G, Geerlof A, Antoine DJ, Anfray A, Orset C, Gauberti M, Fournier A, Holdt LM, Harris HE, Engelhardt B, Bianchi ME, Vivien D, Haffner C, Bernhagen J, Dichgans M, Liesz A. Brain-released alarmins and stress response synergize in accelerating atherosclerosis progression after stroke. Sci Transl Med. 2018 Mar 14;10(432).
Stoppe C, Averdunk L, Goetzenich A, Soppert J, Marlier A, Kraemer S, Vieten J, Coburn M, Kowark A, Kim BS, Marx G, Rex S, Ochi A, Leng L, Moeckel G, Linkermann A, El Bounkari O, Zarbock A, Bernhagen J*, Djudjaj S, Bucala R, Boor P. The protective role of macrophage migration inhibitory factor in acute kidney injury after cardiac surgery. Sci Transl Med. 2018 May 16;10(441).
* co-first or co-corresponding
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Bernhagen, Principal Investigator
Read more about the PI on the next tab.
Sabrina Lukanovic, LL.M, Team assistant
After finishing my Bachelor studies in law, I was awarded a scholarship for Master studies in International Business Law at the Central European University (Hungary). Currently, I am the team assistant to Prof. Bernhagen and Dr. Gökce. When I am out of the office, I love to spend time with my two year old daughter.
Dr. Omar El Bounkari, Senior staff scientist & Technical laboratory head
Following my Biochemistry studies at the University of Hannover, I pursued my PhD degree at the Institute of Biochemistry at the Medical School of Hannover (MHH) under the supervision of Prof. Tamura-Niemann focusing on the interplay between tyrosine kinase signaling and the mRNA export machinery (THO complex). After a brief postdoc fellowship in the same group, I joined the lab of Prof. Bernhagen at RWTH Aachen University in 2010 first as a post-doc and then junior group leader, focusing on the characterization of heteromeric cytokine¬/chemokine receptor complexes MIF proteins, and their function in immune and inflammatory diseases. I followed the lab when it moved to LMU Munich in the end of 2015, where I am now a senior staff scientist, junior group, leader, and technical laboratory head. My research aims at decrypting the role of the MIF protein family and their receptors in immune cells, in particular B lymphocytes, and the related mechanisms that drive inflammatory processes in cardiovascular or autoimmune disease. In my leisure time, I like horse riding and hiking.
Dr. med. Adrian Hoffmann, Metiphys clinician scientist
I am a Clinician Scientist, working in the Department of Anesthesiology (LMU University Hospital) and doing research with a focus on the diverse effects of alarmins during sterile inflammation. I studied Medicine in Frankfurt and enjoy hiking, running and after-work-Isar-swimming.
Sijia Wang, MD, PhD trainee
I am a Medical Doctor who studied Neurology in China supported by a fellowship from LMU / CSC. I joined the Bernhagen lab a year ago and work on my MD/PhD thesis in the area of role and mechanism of the MIF protein family in ischemic stroke. In my spare time, I like to play badminton and go hiking.
Chunfang Zan, MD, PhD trainee
Originally from Datong, China, I have majored in Clinical Medicine (Surgery) at Jilin University in Changchun, China. From September 2018 on, and joined the Bernhagen Lab at ISD for my PhD study, which is supported by a prestigious LMU-CSC Scholarship. I am also a candidate to be admitted to the Munich Medical Research School at LMU. My thesis topic focusses on MIF-2/D-DT-mediated recruitment mechanisms of lymphocytes in the cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and stroke. In my spare time, I enjoy travelling and exploring the world.
Priscila Bourilhón, M.Sc., Technical assistant
Originally from Argentina, I obtained my M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology and after working in a private company, I decided that an academic institution would be a better fit for me. I glad to now be a part of the Bernhagen lab team as a Lab Technician. I take care of organizational issues, and routine experiments, run and develop receptor-specific bacterial, yeast and mammalian assay systems, and support the group with genotyping and general biological assays.
Simona Gerra, M.Sc., Technical assistant
I am originally from Italy, where I finished my Master’s studies in Biology at the University of Milano Bicocca. Working as Environmental Educator and Hiking Guide, I had the opportunity to share the basic ecological principles and evolutionary forces that affect wildlife and their associated habitats. I developed activities about topics such as forest, stream ecology and wildlife science. In August 2018, I joined the Bernhagen research group as Laboratory Technical Assistant. I perform bacterial culturing, protein purification, cell culture and immunoassays, as well as maintaining the lab supplies and equipment. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and reading books.
Markus Brandhofer, M.Sc., PhD student
Originally from the Munich area, I obtained a Bachelor and Master in Biotechnology from FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences and first joined the Bernhagen Lab – back then located at RWTH Aachen University – for my Master thesis, working on effects of the proinflammatory cytokine MIF and alarmins in liver inflammation. In 2016, I followed the lab to the ISD and returned to Munich. Here, working on my PhD, I’m interested in the role of MIF family proteins as atypical chemokines and investigate their crosstalk with classical chemokines. When I’m not busy in the lab, I enjoy visiting friends, trying different kinds of craft beer, going geocaching or just relaxing and reading a nice book.
Christine Krammer, M.Sc., PhD student
I studied Molecular Biotechnology at TU München(TUM). After finishing my masters, I joined the Bernhagen lab to start my PhD in 2017. My scientific research focuses on the structure-activity relationships and novel cellular routes of MIF family member proteins and their receptors in atherogenesis. One emphasis is on the connection between MIF proteins and B lymphocytes and their role in atherosclerosis. Outside of the lab I like to do sports, hiking and biking in the mountains, reading books and spending time with family and friends. To inspire other students for Life Sciences, I joined the ”Biotechnologische Studenteninitiative (btS)” Munich in 2015. We are organizing different local and nationwide events to connect students with industry and academia.
Jelena Milic, M.Sc., PhD student
I am originally from Serbia, where I finished my Master’s studies in Molecular Biology and Physiology, as well as specialist academic studies in Criminalistics and Forensic Identification. In March 2017, I joined the Bernhagen research group as a PhD student (Munich Medical Research School of LMU). After some initial training in atherosclerosis and inflammation research, I study the ‘atheroprotective role of the COP9 signalosome in atherogenesis’ using mouse models and cellular in vitro models. My PhD studies have been supported by a fellowship from IRTG1123, the graduate school of atherosclerosis SFB1123, and are funded by a current scholarship award from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. In order to support students on the path of their professional and personal development, I am volunteering as a mentor in the Mentoring Program of LMU Munich. Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing my guitar, go to a nice concert, and do sports or travel.
Tian Yuan, PhD student
Originally from Beijing, China, while working in a Neurology Department of my University Hospital, I decided that Neuroscience is what I want to be doing. And here I finally am, a PhD student focusing on neuroinflammation and stroke. I was able to obtain a 3-year LMU / CSC scholarship and got accepted as a PhD student in the Bernhagen lab and at Munich Medical Research School (MMRS) which made it possible for me to not only live my dream in the lab, but it also gives me the opportunity to enjoy exploring this beautiful city and making new friends.
Ying Gao, PhD student
I am originally from China, where in 2015, I got my Bachelor degree in Medicine from Central South University in Changsha. After that, I chose to continue my studies in the Department of Neurology affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University. With an enquiring mind to explore the sustainable links between basic scientific research and clinical translation and to get scientific training abroad, I applied with the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC)/LMU PhD program and got awarded a prestigious CSC/LMU fellowship to perform my PhD thesis in the Bernhagen Lab at ISD in Munich. Since October 2018, I am working on my thesis concerned with a novel class of chemokine peptide inhibitors with potential utility in cardiovascular disease and stroke. When not working at lab, I like spending time to do workout or some outdoor activities, such as traveling, climbing.
Yang Bishan, PhD student
Originally from China, I obtained my Master degree from South China University of Technology in physiology. I finished my Master thesis on the topic of cell recruitment mechanisms at the Institute of Biomechanics, and I decided to do further studies related to inflammation. In 2019, I was accepted as a PhD student in the Bernhagen lab funded by an LMU/CSC scholarship for 4 years. Now I study for my PhD thesis in which I explore the relationship between MIF proteins and B lymphocytes in atherosclerosis. In my spare time, I love playing card games with my friends as well as playing badminton.
Lin Zhang, MD, PhD student
Originally from China, I studied Clinical Medicine at Zhengzhou University, where I got my medical Master’s degree. In the fall of 2019, I joined the Bernhagen lab to work on my PhD thesis. My research focuses on the role of MIF family proteins in the resolution of inflammatory processes, e.g. in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a project performed under the supervision of Dr. med. Adrian Hoffmann and in collaboration with the Department of Anesthesiology at LMU University Hospital. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends.
Sabrina Reichl, cand. med., MD doctoral student
Originally from Nürnberg, I am now studying Medicine at LMU Munich. I joined the Bernhagen lab in February 2018 for my medical doctoral thesis which I pursue with a FöFoLe fellowship of Munich Medical Research School (MMRS) and in which I investigate MIF-mediated recruitment mechanisms of B-lymphocytes and their impact on atherosclerosis. In my spare time, I love dancing ballet, skiing, and travelling.
Leon Zwißler, cand. med., MD doctoral student
I am a fourth year medical student at LMU and joined the Bernhagen lab in February 2018 for my MD doctoral dissertation. My research interests focus on modifications of MIF family members by neutrophil-derived oxidants in the progression of atherosclerosis. In August 2018 I was admitted into the International Research Training Group (IRTG) program of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1123 Atherosclerosis for a 6-month fellowship. During leisure time, I passionately follow and play tennis, soccer and other sports, listen to music, or enjoy spending time with friends.
Mathias Holzner, cand. med., MD doctoral student
I am originally from South Tyrol, the northernmost region of Italy lying in the middle of the Alps. I started studying medicine at the LMU in 2015 and joined the Bernhagen lab in 2019. In my doctoral thesis I focus on the MIF-family-mediated regulation of T-cell subpopulations. Growing up surrounded by mountains I love to hike and bike in the nature, as well as all kinds of kinds of winter sports.
Eva Preuner, cand. med., MD doctoral student
I am originally from Austria, but moved to Munich in 2016 to study Medicine at LMU. I joined the AG Bernhagen in 2019 for my doctoral thesis, focusing on the characterization of novel NEDDylation inhibitors in models of atherogenic inflammation. In my free time I enjoy to spend time in nature, especially while hiking and swimming. I also love to travel, mainly to get to know other cultures and cuisines, and to spend time with my friends.
Elena Siminkovitch, cand. med., MD doctoral student
Originally from Bulgaria, I moved to Munich in 2017 to study Medicine at LMU Munich and joined the Bernhagen Lab in 2020 for my MD thesis which I pursue with a FöFoLe fellowship of Munich Medical Research School (MMRS). In my thesis I am focusing on MIF family proteins and their interactions with classical chemokines in the context of inflammation. Outside of the lab I like spending time with friends, riding my bike and hiking.
Iris Woltering, cand. med., MD doctoral student
Originally from Munich, I started studying medicine at LMU in 2016. For my MD doctoral thesis, I joined the Bernhagen Lab in May 2020. During my time here, I will work on the atypical cytokine MIF and its receptor with a focus T-cell activation and atherosclerotic alteration. When I`m not working in the Lab, I enjoy being out and about: in the mountains for hiking, travelling to distant locations or visiting family and friends.
Lukas Spiller, cand. med., MD doctoral student
As a fifth year medical student I joined the Bernhagen lab in Juli 2020 for my MD thesis. My work focuses on structure and function of evolutionary conserved orthologues of the human cytokine MIF in different species. By comparing these orthologues with MIF proteins we expect important structure-activity insights, an understanding of these proteins across kingdoms, and eventually leads towards MIF-based therapeutics for human inflammatory diseases. When not in lab, I love being outdoors and passionately play tennis and the piano.
Dario Ponto, cand. med., MD doctoral student
I am a 4th year medical student at LMU Munich and joined the AG Bernhagen 2021 for my MD doctoral thesis. My research interests focus on characterizing the mechanism of DCN1-inhibtiors and their possible role in preventing vascular inflammation in atherosclerosis. My studies are supported by a FöFoLe fellowship of Munich Medical Research School (MMRS). When I am not in the Lab, you usually find me working at our local youth center, cooking for friends or just reading a good book.
Carl-Christian Schäfer, cand. med., MD doctoral student
Growing up in the Frankfurt area, I moved to Munich to study Medicine in 2017. Now in my fourth year studying Medicine first at LMU and now TUM, I joined the Bernhagen Lab in March 2021 for my MD doctoral thesis. During my time here, I will work on the atypical cytokine MIF and its cognate receptor CD74 and its effect on T cells, in particular focusing on T-cell receptors. Outside of work, I like to spend time outdoors and do sports, such as tennis, hockey or soccer, or playing my guitar.
Elina Bugar, Master student
Originally from Canada, I studied Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa where I received my Bachelor’s degree. I am currently enrolled in the Biochemistry Master’s program at the LMU, taking courses focused on immunology & microbiology. I joined the Bernhagen lab in April 2021 for my master’s thesis, where I am currently investigating the role of MIF-2/D-DT in the context of atherosclerosis and lipid metabolism regulation. Outside the lab I enjoy being in nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Tharshika Thavayogarajah, cand. med., MD doctoral student (external)
Marlies Tursch, vet. med. doctoral student (maternal leave)
Dr. med. Jonas Wagner
Junior Attending Physician and Clinician Scientist, University Medical Center Hamburg- Eppendorf (UKE),
Dr. Lisa Schindler
Postdoc, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology (IBMZ), University Medical Center Hamburg- Eppendorf (UKE)
BernhagenLab 2013-2020 (Aachen and Munich)
Dr. Dzmitry Sinitski
Scientist, Institute of Microbiology and Laboratory Medicine/WHO – Supranational Reference Laboratory of Tuberculosis
Dr. med. Valerie Exler
Junior Attending Physician, Chirurgie Spital Thun, Schweiz
Prof. Dr. Christian Stoppe, FAHA
Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy, University Hospital Würzburg, German
Dr. Corinna Schmitz
Postdoc, Institute for Molecular Cardiovascular Research (IMCAR), RWTH Aachen University
Dr. Christoph Emontzpohl
Postdoc, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, McGovern Medical School
BernhagenLab 2013-2018 (partial, shared with StoppeLab)
Dr. Josefine Soppert
Postdoc, Institute for Molecular Cardiovascular Research (IMCAR), RWTH Aachen University
BernhagenLab 2013-2018 (partial, shared with StoppeLab)
Dr. med. Luisa Averdunk
Junior Attending Physician, Institute for Genetics, Düsseldorf University
BernhagenLab 2013-2018 (partial, shared with StoppeLab)
PhD student, IPEK, LMU Munich
Dr. med. Wibke Schulte
Junior Attending Physician, Charite Hospital, Berlin
BernhagenLab 2010-2016 (partial)
Dr. Pathricia Tilstam
Postdoc, Yale University
BernhagenLab 2010-2014 (partial, shared with NoelsLab)
Dr. Sandra Jumpertz
Postdoc, Department of Visceral Surgery, RWTH Aachen University
Dr. Thomas Hennes
Clinical Data Coordinator, CROMSOURCE
Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Bong-Sung Kim
Senior Attending Physician, UniversitätsSpital Zürich
BernhagenLab 2009-2014 (partial)
Dr. Christina Klasen
Sales Manager Life Science EMEA, SYSMEX Deutschland GmbH
Dr. Setareh Alampour-Rajabi
Postdoc, Institute for Molecular Cardiovascular Research (IMCAR), RWTH Aachen University
Dr. Yaw Asare
Postdoc, Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research (ISD, DichgansLab), LMU Munich
Dr. med. Hongqi Lue
Senior Scientist, RWTH Aachen University
Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Gerrit Grieb
Director, Clinic for Plastic and Hand Surgery, Havelhöhe Hospital Berlin
BernhagenLab 2007-2013 (partial)
Dr. Daniel Heinrichs
Projektträger Jülich (PTJ), BMBF
Consulting Molecular Life Sciences
BernhagenLab 2009-2015 (associated 2016-2020)
Jürgen was appointed Professor and Chair of Vascular Biology at LMU and Principal Investigator at ISD in 2015. Grown up east of Cologne, Germany, he is a biochemist and immunologist by training, who obtained his Diploma (Master) degree and PhD from the University of Tübingen, Germany, and the Picower Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY, USA.
He previously held positions in basic and applied biomedical research as a Postdoc and Senior Scientist at the Picower Institute for Medical Research, where he worked with Professors Richard Bucala and Anthony Cerami, and as a Group Leader and Department Head at the University of Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart. Before moving to Munich, he was a Professor of Biochemistry at RWTH Aachen University, where he headed the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology.
His research centers around the molecular and cellular mechanisms driving inflammation and cardiovascular disease with a focus on cytokines, chemokines, their receptors, and cellular signaling platforms. He (re)-discovered MIF proteins, showing that they are central players in inflammatory pathologies, and identified the MIF/chemokine receptor axis as a driving force of atherosclerotic disease. The larger MIF family of proteins and their receptors as well as the COP9 signalosome continue to be a major focus in the lab due to their unique molecular properties and key position in cell physiology and disease processes including atherosclerosis and ischemic stroke.
Jürgen published >185 papers in this area, and his work has been cited >13000 times and is flanked by numerous patents. The research has been funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), several Foundations, the SyNergy Excellence Cluster, the BMBF and Fraunhofer, the Munich Heart Alliance, and industry.
Jürgen Bernhagen, PhD
Date of birth: 24 February 1964
Place of birth: Wuppertal-Elberfeld
Professor, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Munich
Chair of Vascular Biology (W3), Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research
PI, Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research
2015 – Chair of Vascular Biology (W3), Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research (ISD), Klinikum der Universität München, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Munich, Germany
2015 – Professor of Vascular Biology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Munich, Germany
2010 – 2015 Director (W3) of the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
2009 – 2015 Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
2002 – 2009 Professor of Biochemistry (C3), Head of Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
2000 – 2005 Head of Department of Molecular Biotechnology at the Fraunhofer Institute of Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, Stuttgart (part time appointment), Stuttgart, Germany
2000 – 2001 Assistant Professor (C2) and Head of Laboratory of Biochemistry, IGVT, University of Stuttgart, Germany
2000 Habilitation in Biochemistry, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
1995 – 1999 Senior scientist/group leader, Laboratory of Biochemistry, IGVT, University of Stuttgart, Germany
1994 – 1995 Postdoctoral Investigator and Senior Scientist at the Picower Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY, USA, with A. Cerami & R. Bucala
1992 – 1994 PhD thesis in Biochemistry (Dr. rer. nat.), Picower Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY, USA, and Biochemical Institute of the University of Tübingen, Germany
1988 – 1989 Visiting Research Fellow in molecular arthritis research Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London, England
1985 – 1991 Study of Biochemistry (Diplom/Master), University of Tübingen, Germany
Coordinating Functions, Editorial Roles, Honors, and Awards
2018 – 2022 Member SFB1123 „Novel Targets in Atherosclerosis“
2017 – 2020 Member SFB-TRR57 “Organ Fibrosis”
2019 – () Editorial Board: The FASEB Journal; Atherosclerosis; Scientific Reports (NPG); Associate Editor: The Quarterly Journal of Medicine (Oxford University Press); Conditioning Medicine
2015 – () Member Munich Cluster of Systems Neurology (SyNergy)
2015 – () Member, Munich Heart Alliance (MHA) within German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK)
2014 – 2018 Member SFB1123 „Novel Targets in Atherosclerosis“
2014 – 2015 Vice-Spokesman, IZKF Aachen, Cardiovascular Cluster
2014 – () Editorial board Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, Guest editor Frontiers in Immunology (2014-2016)
2013 – 2018 Permanent Member of the Referee Panel of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes for PhD fellowships
2010 – 2014 Spokesman of the International DFG Graduate School GRK1508/EuCAR “Arterial Remodeling”
2009 W3 Professorship offers for Chairs in Biochemistry at Ruhr-University, Bochum and Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf (rejected)
2009 Editorial board Open Atheroscl. J
2009 – 2016 Member SFB-TRR57 “Organ Fibrosis”
2009 – 2015 IZKF Aachen, Vice-Spokesman Cardiovascular Cluster (2014-2015), Member of Executive Board (2009-2015)
2008 Paul-Martini-Award for Clinical Pharmacology and Achievements in Drug Discovery
2007 – () Founding Member and Member of Executive Board, International MIF Consortium
2007 – 2014 Deputy Spokesman of the DFG Collaborative Research Center FOR809
2007 Member Fellowship Selection Board (‘Hochschulauswahl’) of the German National Academic Foundation (‘Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes’)
2004 – 2005 Guest Editor, Antioxid. Redox Signal
2002 – 2011 Member SFB 542 „Molecular Mechanisms of Inflammation“
2000 – 2005 Member of the Institutional Steering Committee of the Fraunhofer Institute IGB
1994 Fellowship (“Promotionsstipendium“) award of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes
1988 – 1991 Study Scholarship of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation
Fields of Interest
Cytokines, chemokines, atypical chemokines, atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction and remote ischemic preconditioning, inflammation and inflammatory diseases, receptor mechanisms, signal transduction, and the COP9 signalosome
For information on Currently Funded Projects see ISD Research Support
September is “Educational Peak Time”: Numerous internships / practical courses in BernhagenLab
During the months of September, the BernhagenLab hosts several students in its laboratory, performing 3-4 weeks practical courses and internships. Teaching activities encompass the Practical Course in Innate Immunity (Master course Innate Immunity & Inflammation within the Biochemistry Master Program of LMU), BVMD internships (research exchange for medical students within the IFMSA/BVMD programs), and internships within the LMU Biology Master Classes.
Teaching modules offered by the Chair of Vascular Biology of LMU
- Training of medical students as part of the ‘FöFoLe’ graduate program
- Training of medical students as part of the ‘BVMD Mobility’ program of LMU
- MD and PhD theses within the MMRS graduate program
- Training of medical students during their MD thesis and within ‘MeCuM Module 6’
- Contribution to lectures, within the LMU master course ‘Innate Immunity & Inflammation’ of the ‘Master of Biochemistry’ program
- Contribution to seminars within the LMU master course ‘Innate Immunity & Inflammation’ of the ‘Master of Biochemistry’ program
- Practical course within the LMU ‘Biochemistry Master’ program
- Training of PhD graduate students within the ‘Integrated Research Training Group’ (IRTG) ‘Atherosclerosis – Mechanisms and Networks of Novel Therapeutic Targets’ within CRC1123
- Bachelor and master theses in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biotechnology, Biology, and related disciplines
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Jürgen Bernhagen
Secretary: Sabrina Lukanovic
Video microscopy and live imaging of single cell migration tracks
As a lab focusing on chemokines and atypical chemokines, immune cell migration studies are in the center of our interest to understand their roles in cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. The lab is equipped with the premium class high power inverse fluorescence microscope, the Leica DMi8 that is equipped with a fully motorized video microscopy modality, a micro-incubator for mid- to -longterm tracking experiments and various high power, high resolution objectives to track leukocyte migration movements in real-time.Features DMI8 life cell imaging microscope:
- Fluorescence detection at broad wavelength range due to variety of filters and RFIP fluorescence revolver
- Numerous colors/filters (excitation/emission: 350/460, 436/480, 480/535, 500/527, 546/585, 545/605)
- Fully motorized
- High-speed live tracking (XGA 1024x768 mit 30 fps)
- sCMOS camera (Hamamatsu Orca Flash 4.0)
- Various objectives including HC PL APO 63x/1.400.60 - OIL
- LAS X Premium software and Huygens deconvolution software
- Anti-vibration table
- Incubator (heat, temperature, and CO2-O2 control)
Multi-Photon microscopy with 1300 nm pulsed IR laser an FLIM-FRET
We have one of the first new-generation Leica multiphoton microscopes, i.e. the Leica TCS SP8 DIVE with FLIM-FRET modality, in Germany and Europe. The instrument is primarily used for atherosclerosis and stroke research, but also is an important tool for various other cardiovascular, neuroscience, neurophysiology, and cell biology questions.
The advanced Leica TCS SP8 DIVE multiphoton microscope is equipped with spectrally tunable detection over the whole visible spectrum (380 – 800 nm) and a highly sophisticated Vario Beam Expander (VBE) combining maximum depth, high resolution and full color correction. Our system consists of both confocal and multiphoton units and is thereby perfectly suited for all standard applications including in vivo live imaging, ex vivo leukocyte adhesion, in vivo cell recruitment and homing, calcium imaging, dye separation and live time determination using Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM), detection and imaging of both molecular interactions and molecular distance in vitro and in vivo using FLIM-FRET. The femto-second high power 1300 nm laser in combination with the three-photon excitation option allows imaging at high penetration depth of up to 800 µm.
- Confocal lasers: 488 nm, 552 nm, and 638 nm (Vis. CW)
- Confocal detectors: 2 internal detectors (1 HyD, 1 standard PMT)
- Multiphoton lasers: extended IR spectrum tunable multiphoton laser (New InSight® X3™, Spectra-Physics) tunable in the range of 680-1300 nm (laser class 4) and 1045 nm fixed IR laser (pulsed)
- Multiphoton detectors: 3 external Reflected Light Hybrid Detectors ((RLHyD)
- Vario Beam Expander (VBE)
- Ultra high-speed resonant scanner 8kHz (Maximal Frame Resolution: 1024x1024 pixel; scan-zoom: 1.3 - 48x)
- Leica LAS X Navigator for the acquisition and review of large data sets
- Long-working distance immersion objectives that can be used according to the experimental model and imaging needs are available, including cleared tissues
- High-end fully motorized XY-stage
- SP8 FALCON (FAstLifetime CONtrast) for Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM)
- LIGHTNING and Huygens Deconvolution Algorithms
- PicoQuant FLIM-FRET module
- 3D visualization mode
Access to the imaging system, as well as design of experimental procedures including image data acquisition and analysis are possible. If you are interested in using our system, please don´t hesitate to contact the responsible person:
Dr. Omar El Bounkari
Tel.: +49 (0)89 4400 - 46152
Single cell sorting and sequencing unit
The SH800 is a microfluidic chip-based sorter ideally suited for various single cell sorting and scRNAseq applications. It is run by the Bernhagen and Gokce labs at ISD and supports cell sorting experiments of the Bernhagen and Gokce labs, of other ISD investigators, users of the SyNergy excellence cluster, as well users from the DZNE, the DZHK, and the LMU/KUM campus. The SH800 sorter is associated with the SyNergy Transcriptomics technology hub.
The area of single cell analysis and single cell RNAseq/transcriptomics currently is exploding and revolutionizes biomedical research. Understanding the genetic, functional, and compository heterogeneity of healthy and pathogenic tissue specimens has become a major challenge in our efforts to decipher human diseases.
The Bernhagen and Gokce labs together with SyNergy recently acquired an SH800S Cell Sorter from Sony Instruments. The sorter is a key component of our pipeline to isolate and study cell populations from various tissues and animal models of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases including atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, and Alzheimer disease. With this sorter we can sort a wide range of cells, from B and T lymphocytes to microglial cells, pericytes, and neurons.
Sorting uses the 70μm, 100μm, and 130μm microfluidic sorting chips. We are able to perform bulk as well as single cell sorting into tubes and 96- and 384-well plates for high-throughput analyses. The SH800S sorter is equipped with four lasers (488 nm, 405nm, 561nm and 638nm) and eight fluorescence filters. Apart from that, the user-friendly design and software and the high level of automation allows for easy handling, even with beginners.
If you wish to use the SH800 sorter, please contact Prof. Jürgen Bernhagen or Dr. Ozgun Gokce to register, learn about user conditions, and get training. Registered and trained users please visit the booking site here: https://www.gokcelab.com/sony.
Hypoxia chamber to mimic ischemic stress in cardiomyocytes, neuronal brain cultures, or endothelial cells
Sijia Wang, MD, successfully defended her thesis
May 2021 – Sijia Wang completed her MD Doctoral Thesis entitled “The role of MIF proteins in ischemic stroke”, a comprehensive and impressive MD thesis that actually is almost comparable to a full-size PhD thesis. Sijia successfully defended her doctoral thesis on 27 April 2021 and is currently preparing the corresponding original manuscript, on which she will be the first author. We are very proud of her big achievement and happy that Sijia was part of our laboratory for 4 years. We wish her best of success for her future carrier path in clinical neurology and biomedical science and hope that she will return to Munich soon.
New papers of the BernhagenLab reveal a role for the MIF/CXCR2 axis in neutrophil survival and identify novel cyclic peptides that inhibit MIF/CXCR2: implications for targeting strategies in inflammatory diseases
Nov 2020 / Feb 2021 – While the recruitment role of MIF and its chemokine receptors in atherosclerotic inflammation has been well described for monocytes, little is known about neutrophils, the first cells to arrive at inflammatory sites. Lisa Schindler, Leon Zwissler, and Christine Krammer together with our collaborators at the University of Otago in Christchurch, NZ, and the West-German Heart Center in Essen, now identify a role for the MIF/CXCR2 axis in neutrophil survival, a process governing the balance between the amplification of the inflammatory response and its resolution. In a second paper, Christine Krammer from our lab, together with collaborators from the KapurniotuLab at TUM and colleagues from the Institute for Cardiovascular Prevention (IPEK) of LMU, RWTH Aachen University, and Carolus/Moderna Therapeutics, report on novel, proteolytically stable, cyclic peptides that can block the MIF/CXCR2 axis. The studies are published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology and ChemBioChem.
Schindler L, Zwissler L, Krammer C, Hendgen-Cotta U, Rassaf T, Hampton MB, Dickerhof N*, Bernhagen J*. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor inhibits neutrophil apoptosis by inducing cytokine release from mononuclear cells. J Leukoc Biol. 2021 Feb 10. doi: 10.1002/JLB.3A0420-242RRR. Online ahead of print.
Krammer C, Kontos C, Dewor M, Hille K, Dalla Volta B, El Bounkari O, Taş K, Sinitski D, Brandhofer M, Megens RTA, Weber C, Schultz JR, Bernhagen J*, Kapurniotu A*. A MIF-Derived Cyclopeptide that Inhibits MIF Binding and Atherogenic Signaling via the Chemokine Receptor CXCR2. Chembiochem. 2020 Oct 30. doi: 10.1002/cbic.202000574. Online ahead of print.
November 2020 – Atherosclerosis is the main cause of stroke and myocardial infarction. While the inflammatory paradigm is established, the development of anti-cytokine/chemokine therapeutics for atherosclerosis has remained challenging. A team of investigators led by the Bernhagen (ISD) and Kapurniotu (TUM) labs designed peptide-based mimics of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 that block experimental atherosclerosis. The new compounds selectively target pro-atherogenic chemokine pathways, whereas homeostatic pathways are spared. The study is published in Nat Communications...
Jelena Milic received a prestigious fellowship (“Promotionsstipendium”) from Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.
July 2020 – Studienstiftung is Germany's oldest and most prestigious scholarship foundation. It awards fellowships to outstanding and particularly motivated doctoral students with distinguished personalities and well above-average degrees and scientifically excellent dissertation projects. Studienstiftung awards go to less than 0.5% of students pursuing their studies or doctoral projects in Germany. Jelena received the fellowship to pursue her doctoral thesis project on “The role of the COP9 signalosome in atherosclerosis”. Congratulations, Jelena, for receiving this fellowship award, best of success for your doctoral thesis, and enjoy the interactions with the other fellows at Studienstiftung’s wonderful academic program.
Young Investigator Award goes to Jelena Milic from Bernhagen Lab
March 2020 – Jelena Milic won the Gotthard Schettler Young Investigator Award at the Vascular Medicine and Atherosclerosis Conference (VMAC), held in Augsburg, 12-13th March, 2020. VMAC is organized by several leading German societies focusing on atherosclerosis and its sequelae, i.e. DGAF, DACH, and DGFF, as well as Working Group 41 (Atherosclerosis) of the German Cardiac Society (DGK). Jelena received the award for her lecture on “The Role of the COP9 Signalosome in Atherosclerosis” that she gave in the “Basic science – Young Investigator Award Session” of the VMAC conference. Congratulations, Jelena, for this very nice recognition of your research findings!
Two papers of the BernhagenLab shed light on the evolution and differential roles of MIF proteins in inflammation with implications for basic mechanisms but also cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases
Feb 2020 – The BernhagenLab recently discovered that plant MIF proteins surprisingly have MIF-like chemokine activity. Dzmitry is the first author on this paper and did a great job in highlighting the X-Kingdom activity of MIF proteins with implications for both basics research (e.g. evolution of the innate immune system, structure-activity relationships of MIF/receptor interactions) to unexpected translational opportunities (e.g. smart foods or immune modulation). The paper is a collaborators with researchers from Aachen University and the University of Groningen, NL, and was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry
and highlighted in Science Signaling
In collaboration with research from Zürich University and Yale University, we demonstrate a differential regulation of macrophage activation by the MIF cytokine superfamily members MIF and MIF-2 in adipose tissue during endotoxemia.
Group photo of the LMU/CSC conference and the incoming PhD candidates.
Oct 2019 – On the LMU/CSC day on Oct 7, 2019, the 2nd year CSC students had their midterm conference and the new CSC students celebrated their successful conclusion of the introductory course at LMU. Yuan Tian from the BernhagenLab presented a poster on her PhD project “The role of the COP9 signalosome in neuroinflammation” and Bishan Yang, now a new PhD candidate in the BernhagenLab, received her introductory course certificate.
9th International MIF Symposium
Nov 2018 – This year’s MIF Conference - The 9th International MIF Symposium (link) - was hosted by the Bernhagen lab at ISD/LMU Großhadern Campus from
May 2018 – Complex heart surgery may lead to organ dysfunction such as acute kidney injury (AKI) or ischemic stroke. A researcher team led by Aachen University and the Bernhagen lab found that patients with high blood levels of the cytokine MIF had a reduced risk of developing AKI. MIF was protective in experimental AKI by reducing oxidative stress and necroptosis. The study is published in this week’s issue of Sci Transl Med...
A novel link between the chemokine MIF and B lymphocytes in atherosclerosis
Mar 2018 – The Bernhagen lab uncovered a previously unrecognized connection between the atherogenic chemokine-like cytokine MIF and B cell function in atherosclerosis. Previously already implicated in controlling monocyte and T cell recruitment in atherogenesis, the current study (Schmitz et al., FASEB J. 2018) using an atherogenic ApoE-/- mouse model suggests that MIF also controls pro-atherogenic B cell activities in this disease. Mif-deficient mice which are protected from lesion development have a B cell development defect and exhibit atheroprotective natural IgM-containing antibody profile. The mechanism of generation of these anti-oxidized LDL antibodies needs to be explored in future work, the current study also supports recent evidence on a critical role for B cells in atherosclerosis. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Cardiovascular Prevention (IPEK) at LMU, RWTH Aachen University, the Peptide Biochemistry lab at WZW/TUM, Yale University, and the University of Düsseldorf.
A second paper by the same lab gave further mechanistic insight into how MIF regulates the receptor expression on B cell. Omar El Bounkari and his team unveil a connection between the pro-proliferative activity of MIF/CD74 signaling in B cells and inflammation (Klasen et al., Cell Signal 2018) uThis study was performed in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University and the Peptide Biochemistry lab at WZW/TUM.
Dositej Obradović fellowship award
Nov 2017 – Jelena Milic, first year PhD student in the Bernhagen lab at ISD, was awarded the Dositej Oradovic scholarship. This prize is awarded by the Fund for Young Talents of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia for the best students from Serbia at EU Member State and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) universities and the world's leading universities and it encompasses a prize money of 4,600.85,- € to stimulate the outstanding achievements of the young talents of Serbia in various fields in terms of their further theoretical and professional development. Jelena performs her PhD thesis under the supervision of Jürgen Bernhagen and in the framework of the Munich Medical Research School (MMRS) of LMU. Her thesis focuses on elucidating the mechanisms underlying the protective role of the COP9 signalosome (CSN) signaling complex in atherosclerosis.
"MIF Family Cytokines in Innate Immunity and Homeostasis“
Dec 2017 – Jürgen Bernhagen, Chair of Vascular Biology at ISD, has edited a comprehensive book in the field of inflammation research. The book is titled: "MIF Family Cytokines in Innate Immunity and Homeostasis“ and was published within the Springer series "Progress in Inflammation Research“ (Progress in Inflammation Research; ISBN 978-3-319-52352-1; ISBN 978-3-319-52354-5 (eBook); DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-52354; Springer International Publishing AG 2017; Editors: J. Bernhagen, R. Bucala). Jürgen co-edited the book together with Prof. Richard Bucala, a Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine. The book covers recent advances in our understanding on the inflammatory mechanisms of MIF family proteins and their role in various inflammatory diseases, including promising MIF-based therapeutic avenues.
Mar 2017 – Applying preclinical models of atherosclerosis and myeloid-specific gene knockout, an international team led by ISD researchers found that the deNEDDylase CSN5, a subunit of the COP9 signalosome that controls cellular protein degradation processes, has protective functions in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis...
Exciting science, great location and fun at 2019 ISD Retreat in Herrsching/Ammersee
Ramadan Bayram at AG Bernhagen and AG Gökce
Jürgen Bernhagen and Yuan Tian attended the X-ZOMES Conference held at Akko, Israel from Feb 4-7, 2019. The biannual ZOMES conference series was initiated in 1999 as a grassroots initiative of scientists studying 3 related protein complexes, the 19S proteasome, the COP9 signalosome (CSN), and the translation initiation factor eIF3 (aka PCI complexes, the “ZOMES”). Leading international scientists from all Zomes areas met for 3-day in-depth discussions on the biochemistry, structure, function, and disease relevance of these complexes. Jürgen’s talk was on the role of the COP9 signalosome in cardiovascular diseases; Yuan’s poster on the CSN and microglial inflammation was selected for speed poster and she did a great job in delivering it in the 4 min speed format.
25 February 2018 – Lisa Schindler obtained a prestigious 12-month DAAD fellowship to perform part of her PhD thesis at Mark Hampton’s lab in Christchurch, NZ.
CSC-LMU fellowship awardees Chunfang Zan, Ying Gao, and Hao Ji start their PhD theses
On 1 Oct 2018, Chunfang Zan and Ying Gao joined the Bernhagen Lab. Chunfang holds a master degree in Clinical Medicine from Jilin University, Changchun, China, and Ying holds a master in Neurology from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Both received a prestigious Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC)-LMU fellowship following competitive selection among hundreds of applicants. The fellowship allows them to pursue a 3-4 year PhD project at LMU. Together with Ji Hao, another successful CSC scholar and PhD candidate in the neighboring Gokce Lab, they just successfully passed the exam concluding the LMU-CSC introductory training in September 2018.
The photos were taken at the opening ceremony of the 2018 CSC-LMU program, which took place on 10 Oct at LMU Biomedical Center (BMC) and was led by LMU Vice President Professor van Ess, the Chinese General Consulate, LMU Vice President Prof. Conrad, and Drs. Lauterbach and Zhang from the LMU International Office. The PhD candidates were awarded their training certificates and notably, Hao delivered one of the welcome addresses.
ISD Retreat 2018
10 July 2018 – The whole group participated at this year’s ISD retreat at Lake Ammersee in Herrsching. Great science, great fun