Translational Stroke and Dementia Research – PI: Martin Dichgans
We are interested in the molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms of stroke and cerebrovascular disease. We use genetic approaches to identify novel risk genes and explore their functional role in vitro and in vivo using genome-editing, proteomics, and imaging technology. We are particularly interested in cerebral small vessel disease and large artery atherosclerotic stroke.
A major starting point of our work are patients with stroke that are examined through prospective clinical studies along with healthy individuals. We apply genetic (GWAS and sequencing) and other omics techniques to identify novel targets and pathways relevant to specific mechanistically defined stroke subtypes. We use this information to explore relationships with informative intermediate (e.g. vascular, metabolic) and related phenotypes (e.g. coronary artery disease).
We have established genetic mouse models for cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) derived from the genetic discoveries (e.g. Notch3, HtrA1, Foxf2) and use these models to identify and characterize key molecular pathways (e.g. TGF-ß signaling) and cellular targets (e.g. brain pericytes) relevant to the pathogenesis of SVD.
Another area increasingly moving into the focus of our research is atherosclerosis. We in collaboration with others recently identified several risk loci for large artery stroke and are currently exploring the role of relevant genes (e.g. HDAC9, TSPAN2) in atherogenesis and vascular injury.
Contact: Martin Dichgans, MD,
Circulating Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1 and Risk of Stroke: Meta-Analysis of Population-Based Studies Involving 17 180 Individuals. Georgakis MK, Malik R, Björkbacka H, Pana TA, Demissie S, Ayers C, Elhadad MA, Fornage M, Beiser AS, Benjamin EJ, Boekholdt MS, Engström G, Herder C, Hoogeveen RC, Koenig W, Melander O, Orho-Melander M, Schiopu A, Söderholm M, Wareham N, Ballantyne CM, Peters A, Seshadri S, Myint PK, Nilsson J, de Lemos JA, Dichgans M. Circ Res. 2019 Sep 27;125(8):773-782.
Free water determines diffusion alterations and clinical status in cerebral small vessel disease. Duering M, Finsterwalder S, Baykara E, Tuladhar AM, Gesierich B, Konieczny MJ, Malik R, Franzmeier N, Ewers M, Jouvent E, Biessels GJ, Schmidt R, de Leeuw FE, Pasternak O, Dichgans M. Alzheimers Dement. 2018 Jun;14(6):764-774.
Serum neurofilament light: A biomarker of neuroaxonal injury after ischemic stroke. Tiedt S, Duering M, Barro C, Kaya AG, Boeck J, Bode FJ, Klein M, Dorn F, Gesierich B, Kellert L, Ertl-Wagner B, Goertler MW, Petzold GC, Kuhle J, Wollenweber FA, Peters N, Dichgans M. Neurology. 2018 Oct 2;91(14):e1338-e1347.
Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies 3 novel loci associated with stroke. Malik R, Rannikmäe K, Traylor M, Georgakis MK, Sargurupremraj M, Markus HS, Hopewell JC, Debette S, Sudlow CLM, Dichgans M; MEGASTROKE consortium and the International Stroke Genetics Consortium. Ann Neurol. 2018 Dec;84(6):934-939.
Genetic risk, incident stroke, and the benefits of adhering to a healthy lifestyle: cohort study of 306 473 UK Biobank participants. Rutten-Jacobs LC, Larsson SC, Malik R, Rannikmäe K; MEGASTROKE consortium; International Stroke Genetics Consortium, Sudlow CL, Dichgans M, Markus HS, Traylor M. BMJ. 2018 Oct 24;363:k4168.
Martin Dichgans, PI
Read more about the PI on the next tab.
Yaw Asare / PostDoc
I joined the Dichgans lab in September 2014 after my PhD and a short postdoc stay in RWTH Aachen University (BernhagenLab). Building on my expertise in vascular signaling, the crosstalk between epigenetic regulatory mechanisms and the NFkB pathway driving vascular inflammation is a major research focus. Several in vivo mouse models of atherosclerosis and vascular injury are flanked by in vitro mechanistic studies to decifer the role of HDAC9 in vascular inflammation. We further explore the inhibition of HDAC9 as a therapeutic strategy to reduce vascular inflammation, which may serve as a target for interventional studies in humans.
Nathalie Beaufort / PostDoc
I grew up and studied in France, and obtained my doctoral thesis in Physiology and Physiopathology in 2005 at University Paris 6. After post-doctoral experiences in France and Germany, I joined the group of Martin Dichgans at the ISD in 2010 as a research associate. My work focusses on the biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology of cerebral small vessel disease with an emphasis on CARASIL, an inherited disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations targeting the HTRA1 protease. To explore the pathomechanisms underlying CARASIL and develop innovative repair strategies, I combine the analysis of recombinant proteins, patient-derived primary cells and mouse tissues.
Marios Georgakis / PhD student
Originally from Greece, I have studied medicine at the University of Athens (graduated in 2015) and completed Master studies in Neurosciences at the same University (2017). After an experience for 4 years as a research fellow in the field of epidemiology in Athens, I joined Martin Dichgans’ group at the ISD in 2017 as a PhD student of the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences. Here, I work on the genetic and clinical epidemiology of cerebrovascular disease. My main goal is to use genetic data to identify causal risk factors and novel therapeutic targets for stroke and cerebral small vessel disease. My research interests further lie in determining the causes and predictors of cognitive decline after stroke.
Judit Gonzales Gallego / PhD student
I am born in Spain and obtained my BSc in biochemistry from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. After completing my bachelors degree, I worked for one year at the Center of Neurobiology of Hamburg University with Dr. Marina Mikhaylova in protein neuronal transport. Currently, I'm a student in the Graduate School of Systemic Neuroscience (GSN) and after performing a research internship in PaquetLab on CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing I decided to join the ISD in October 2018 for a PhD project in neurovascular disorders co-supervised by Martin Dichgans and Dominik Paquet.
Christof Haffner / senior scientist
I completed my studies in biology and my Ph.D. in clinical biochemistry at the University of Würzburg. After working as a Postdoc at Yale University, New Haven and at the University of Halle/Saale, I joined the Department of Metabolic Chemistry at the LMU in Munich. Since 2009 I am a senior researcher at the ISD, in 2011 I completed my habilitation in biochemistry at the LMU medical faculty. My work focuses on the molecular mechanisms of hereditary forms of cerebral small vessel disease, with a priority on Notch3 pathomechanisms in CADASIL.
Anna Kopczak / clinician scientist
Originally from Poland, I grew up in Germany and studied medicine at the University Duisburg-Essen and at the LMU. During my clinical residency in neurology, I was involved in clinical studies dealing with hormonal disturbances after brain damage such as traumatic brain injury and stroke. From 2011 to 2016, I continued my clinical education and improved my scientific knowledge at the Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry in Munich. With my clinical expertise as a neurologist and my experiences in clinical research, I joined the group of Martin Dichgans in April 2016 as a clinician scientist. The focus of my research are clinical studies to improve our understanding of stroke mechanisms and to optimize treatment of cerebrovascular diseases.
Barbara Lindner / technical assistant
Rainer Malik / PostDoc
Originally from Austria, I studied molecular biology with a focus on computational biology and protein structure prediction at the University of Salzburg. As an early adopter in the bioinformatics field, I changed subject to further strengthen my computational knowledge and obtained my PhD in Computer Science at the Universiteit Utrecht in 2006. After a first PostDoc analyzing cell-cycle dependent proteomics data (Prof. Nigg, MPI Biochemistry, Martinsried), I joined the ISD at the very beginning in 2009 to analyze large-scale OMICS data. Here, over the last years, we have led or participated in all major genetic studies of stroke and stroke-related comorbidities. Through extensive international collaborations (ISGC, METASTROKE, MEGASTROKE) we strive to translate genetic, genomic and other OMICS findings to animal models and subsequently to the clinic.
Matthias Prestel / PostDoc
I am a senior scientist with expertise in transcription, chromatin remodelling and epigenetics. I was recruited to the ISD in 2012. My research focuses on the functional characterization of genetically inherited risk loci identified in large case-control Genome-Wide Association Studies for large atherosclerotic stroke. I integrate biochemical, chromatin and cell biology methods to determine the molecular mechanism conferred by risk loci. As risk loci are often Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in noncoding genome, they exert a regulatory function in chromatin organization and gene expression. To develop novel therapeutic approaches, it is crucial to understand the molecular link between risk loci and disease etiology. To this end, I work on identifying dysregulated target genes, characterizing their biological function and generating murine model systems to test their relevance in atherosclerosis.
Melanie Schneider / technical assistant
I finished my education as a medical technical assistant in 2005 and immediately started working with Professor Martin Dichgans. I take care of organizational issues to all groups, place orders and do many histology works for my group members (e. g. preparing and cutting tissue, do staining’s, microscopy and sometimes evaluations). I am currently involved in projects aimed at identifying the mechanism underlying proatherogenic role of HDAC9 and exploring the therapeutic potential of HDAC9 inhibition for atheroprotection.
Steffen Tiedt / clinician scientist
I joined the group of Martin Dichgans at the ISD in 2013 after finishing my medical studies at the LMU in Munich and at Harvard. Beforehand, I received an MD for studying the regeneration of neurons after stroke (with Magdalena Götz, Institute of Physiology, LMU). Since being part of the ISD, my main research goal is to identify circulating biomarkers for diagnostic questions posed in the context of stroke and translate them into daily clinical application. For this purpose we established the CIRCULAting biomarkers after Stroke (CIRCULAS) study in 2014, which recruits patients with suspected stroke in the emergency department and has a strong focus on biosampling of these patients in the acute and subacute phase. We apply omics technologies (eg, RNA sequencing) and single-molecule assays to study different molecular classes such as microRNAs, proteins, and metabolites to advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of stroke and for their value as biomarkers.
Dr. Katalin Todorov-Völgyi
Originally from Hungary, I studied biology and obtained my PhD in 2016 at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest in molecular neurobiology, focusing on the early molecular changes in Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular Dementia. I joined the Dichgans lab as a Postdoc in February 2017. My research aims to reveal the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), stroke and vascular cognitive impairment. For these purposes, I use a genetic mouse model with Foxf2 deficiency, which was identified as a novel risk gene in SVD and stroke in recent Genome-Wide Association Studies. To understand the role of Foxf2 and identify new molecular targets in SVD patomechanisms, I combine omics technologies, microscopy, image analysis, and behavior assessments on mouse models. Outside the lab, I like photography, hiking, traveling and exploring new places.
Guangyao Yan / PhD student
Born and bred in China, I finished veterinary medicine study in Yangzhou university in 2011 and received my master degree in animal genetics and stem cell research in Nanjing Agricultural university in 2014. After acquiring some molecular techniques and combined with innate love for basic research, I joined AG Dichgans in2015 as a doctoral candidate. My main PhD project aims to decipher the molecular role of HDAC9 during atherogenesis in cell types of interest. To achieve this goal, we exploited a new mouse model and utilized different molecular and cellular techniques. To further explore the function of HDAC9, transcriptomic sequencing was also performed and analyzed. Outside the lab, I often go hiking and biking in the alps and experience or learn something new.
Gabriele Wagenstetter / MD student
Andreas Zellner / PhD student
Yishu Huang / PhD student
I studied Clinical Medicine and Psychology at Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology. After obtaining my Master degree of Internal Medicine, I joined the Dichgans lab as a PhD candidate in 2018, and was later admitted into the International Research Training Group (IRTG) program of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1123 Atherosclerosis. My scientific research aims at investigating the potential role of novel risk loci, which identified in large scaled GWAS studies, in atherosclerosis. Outside of the lab, I enjoy going to Staatsoper, collecting traditional Chinese chop seals and appreciating masterpieces of Kandinsky.
Karin Waegemann / research coordinator
Martin Dichgans | CV
Martin Dichgans, MD
Date of birth: May 4th 1966
Place of birth: Basel (CH)
Professor, Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU), Munich
Chair, Stroke and Dementia Research
since 2010 Founding Director, Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research, Klinikum der Universität München
Chair, Stroke and Dementia Research
Head, Interdisciplinary Stroke Center Munich, Klinikum der Universität München
since 2006 Professor of Neurology, Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU), Munich
since 2001 Board Certificate in Neurology, Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU), Munich
until 1993 Study of Medicine at the University of Heidelberg, Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU), and Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA)
since 2016 President, German Stroke Society (DSG) and Board of Directors (since 2014)
since 2015 Executive Committee, European Stroke Organization (ESO)
since 2014 Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, ERANET-NEURON, FP7 European Union
since 2012 Scientific Board and Research Coordinator, Munich Cluster of Systems Neurology (SyNergy)
since 2011 Coordinator, Clinical Research DZNE, Munich
Editor Roles and Editorial Boards
since 2017 Annals of Neurology, Editorial Board
since 2016 European Stroke Journal (ESO), Editorial Board
since 2015 Stroke (AHA), Section Editor
since 2013 Int J Stroke (WSO), Section Editor
since 2010 Frontiers in Stroke, Associate Editor
2011 – 2016 J Neurochemistry, Handling Editor
2010 – 2015 Stroke (AHA), Assistant Editor
2006 – 2010 Stroke (AHA), Section Editor
Fields of Interest
Stroke with a special focus on Genetics
Small Vessel Disease