Cerebrovascular disease represents a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Despite major progress in understanding the highly heterogeneous etiology of cerebrovascular disease in recent decades, our preventive approaches remain at large not pathology-oriented. Our work is motivated by a pressing need to optimize cerebrovascular health with the development of precise and personalized preventive strategies. We use large-scale and multi-dimensional data from epidemiological studies and human biobanks (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, imaging) and apply bioinformatic tools to inform such strategies. We have a special focus on extra- and intracranial atherosclerosis, one of the most common causes of cerebrovascular disease.
Our goals include: (i) the discovery of disease-modifying drug targets for novel therapeutic and preventive strategies against cerebrovascular disease, (ii) the deeper molecular and cellular phenotyping of cerebrovascular pathologies, (iii) the discovery of in vivo biomarkers of cerebrovascular disease activity, and (iv) the development of personalized risk stratification tools for patients with or at risk for cerebrovascular disease.
Discovery of drug targets for cerebrovascular disease
Using human genetic data as our starting point, we bridge different multiomics levels with causal inference methods, such as Mendelian randomization, in order to dissect mechanisms leading to cerebrovascular disease. Our vision is to inform the development of disease-modifying treatments for cerebrovascular pathologies by triangulating the results from human genetics with data from epidemiological studies, human biobanks, and experimental models.
Deeper molecular phenotyping of cerebrovascular disease
Using human samples, we apply novel high-throughput techniques, such as single-cell sequencing and spatial transcriptomics to deeper characterize cerebrovascular disease lesions at higher resolution. For this purpose, we recently developed the AtherOMICS biobank, which involves the collection of atherosclerotic plaque samples from patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy. Our vision is to detect disease processing signatures with diagnostic and therapeutic relevance.
Discovery of in vivo personalized biomarkers
The third key area of exploration involves the discovery of novel readouts of cerebrovascular disease presence and activity. We bridge data from high-throughput molecular technologies in human samples with imaging technologies, such as CT and MRI, as well as with multiomics analyses of peripheral blood samples, in order to detect in vivo phenotypes of disease activity. Our vision is to use such in vivo biomarkers as endpoints in clinical trials testing disease-modifying treatments.
Development of risk stratification tools
Cerebrovascular disease is highly heterogeneous, as is the predisposition of individuals to it depending on their genetic profiles and lifestyles. Over and over again, we see that the one-size fits all approaches we apply in the clinic do not equally work for all. We aim to develop efficient risk stratification tools by applying approaches that range from the development of polygenic risk scores in the general population to deploying deep learning methods in neuroimaging studies of stroke patients. Our vision is to identify individuals that might benefit from specific preventive or therapeutic approaches.
Myserlis EP, Georgakis MK, Demel SL, Sekar P, Chung J, Malik R, Hyacinth HI, Comeau ME, Falcone GJ, Langefeld CD, Rosand J, Woo D, Anderson CD. A Genomic Risk Score Identifies Individuals at High Risk for Intracerebral Hemorrhage. Stroke. 2023 Apr;54(4):973-982. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.122.041701. Epub 2023 Feb 17.
Georgakis MK, Kalogirou EI, Diamantaras AA, Daskalopoulou SS, Munro CA, Lyketsos CG, Skalkidou A, Petridou ET. Age at menopause and duration of reproductive period in association with dementia and cognitive function: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Nov;73:224-243.
Marios Georgakis / PI
Read more in the PI section.
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, Prof. Wahl and Dr. Georgakis. When I am out of the office, I love to spend time with my daughter and son.
Roya Batool, M.Sc. / Technical Assistant at Bernhagen Lab and SyNergy Transcriptome Hub
I am originally from Pakistan and completed my Bachelor in Biosciences there. Pursuing further studies, I gained admission to the Master’s program at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Germany. There, I worked as a student research assistant and tutor in biochemistry and biotechnology for two years. While I enjoyed preparing bachelor’s students for molecular biology lab practices, I discovered a stronger interest in molecular biomedicine research. I joined the CURE-3D Lab at University Hospital Düsseldorf, where I completed an internship and Master thesis in area of cardiovascular diseases. In 2024, I joined research groups of Professor Bernhagen and Dr. Georgakis as a technical assistant. I am excited about gaining knowledge in modern technologies and applying my experiences for a meaningful cause. In my leisure time, I enjoy experimenting with recipes, writing blogs and reading books.
Paulo Alabarse / Postdoc
I am a biologist with a Master's degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, PhD in Medicine from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) and a double degree PhD from the University of Birmingham (UK). I have previously worked (over 5 years) as a post-doctoral at the University of Sao Paulo and the University of California. I joined Dr. Georgakis' research group in 2023 to work on atherosclerosis and stroke as part of the AtherOmics project that aims to build a biobank, dissect the cell population, and molecular basis of the atherosclerosis plaque, focusing on single-nuclei RNA-seq, spatial transcriptomics, proteomics, as well as correlate our findings with imaging (histology and MRI). My personal interest is to help society with remarkable findings to improve overall health and longevity. In my free time I like to practice kung fu, dance tango and study chess.
Barnali Das / Postdoc
Originally from India, I joined ISD in 2024 and am currently working on integrating multi-omics datasets for predictive modeling of cardiovascular diseases. Prior to this, I was a Postdoc in Prof. Dmitrij Frischmann’s lab at TUM where my project focused on ML-based prediction of B-cell epitope candidates for pan-coronavirus-vaccine design. I did PhD in Computer Science & Engineering (specialization – bioinformatics) from IIT Kharagpur. During my PhD, I worked as visiting research fellows in University of Oxford and University of Bristol. I also worked as an Assistant Professor in TMSL in CSE and AI & ML departments. In my leisure time, I enjoy reading books and travelling.
Murad Omarov / PhD student
I earned my Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology. While working on my bachelor's thesis, which focused on mobile genetic elements in plant genomes, I was introduced to bioinformatics and developed a keen interest in it. Subsequently, I pursued a master's degree in computational biology, where I became fascinated by the application of machine learning in human disease research. In early 2023, I joined Dr. Georgakis' research group as a PhD student. My project aims to identify novel biomarkers of subclinical atherosclerosis using computer vision and machine learning techniques. In my free time, I enjoy playing guitar, traveling, exploring science beyond my field, and watching movies.
Anushree Ray / PhD student
I hold dual Masters' degrees in Biology from University of Mumbai and Epidemiology from Utrecht University, and I leverage my expertise in both disciplines for my ongoing research. I have joined ISD in 2023 as a PhD student. My work in Dr. Georgakis' research group focuses on unraveling cell-specific immune mechanisms across various stroke subtypes through the analysis of multi-omics data. Beyond my research, I am passionate about my work as scientific editor and am deeply committed to science communication and writing.
Lingling Xu / PhD Student
Lanyue Zhang / PhD Student
I am from China and pursued my studies in Clinical Medicine at Jilin University, where I earned both a Bachelor's degree in Medicine and a Master's degree in Neurosurgery. In 2023, I was awarded the 4-year LMU-CSC scholarship and joined Dr. Georgakis' research team as a PhD candidate. My research focuses on identifying novel biomarkers for atherosclerosis using omics data and machine learning techniques. Outside the lab, I enjoy reading, playing badminton, and snowboarding.
Yingle Li / PhD Student
Marek Konieczny / MD
Jana Mattar / MD Student
Andreas Papadopoulos / MD
Stefan Mayrhofer / MD Student
I am originally from Austria. I am currently studying medicine at the LMU. Having always been fascinated by the creative and logical nature of science, I joined the Stroke Precision Lab in the spring of 2023. In my project I am exploring an imaging biomarker of inflammation in atherosclerosis, specifically by analysing the fat tissue around carotid arteries in computed tomography angiography. To achieve my goal, I am additionally leveraging histological analyses of human carotid artery samples from patients we recruit in the AtherOMICS study. In my free time I enjoy going out with my friends, exploring new restaurants and movies, exercising at the gym and since recently also learning about computer science.
Ali Antabi / MD student
Originally from Syria, my academic journey began with premedical studies in Biology at the American University in Beirut, later graduating from Charles University in Prague as a medical doctor, my passion for research led me to the Mayo Clinic in the USA, where I worked in the cardiovascular and aging laboratory. Additionally, I collaborated with EuroSurg, specifically in the CASCADE project. During that period, my commitment to understanding vascular and soft tissue dysfunction grew stronger. To deepen my expertise in this field, I joined the Georgakis Lab for my Dr.med thesis project. In the ISD, I am immersed in AtherOMICS in collaboration with the Vascular Surgery Department at LMU Klinikum. I have a role in the development of a biobank of human atherosclerotic plaques, with direct patients contact in the OR and around the surgery. Additionally, my responsibilities involve working with epidemiological data derived from stroke patients. In the lab, I work with Cyto-flowmetry, Proteomics, and Histological analyses. Looking ahead, my aspirations involve a dual career path: one as a clinical surgeon and the other dedicated to advancing research. Beyond professional pursuits, I enjoy skiing, boxing, and traveling.
Philip Melton / Clinician Scientist
Originally from Canada, I first joined the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research in 2018 to pursue my MD thesis under the supervision of Prof. Arthur Liesz. My doctoral research focused on the persistence of metabolomic and metagenomic alterations to the gut-brain axis after ischemic stroke in both patients and murine models. After completing medical school in 2023 I joined the ISD as a clinician scientist and am researching the role of circulating monocytes on the development of secondary mortality after stroke. I joined the AG Georgakis in 2024 to initiate a new clinical trial targeting post-stroke vascular inflammation.
Luka Zivkovic / MD student
Born and raised in Munich, I enrolled at LMU Medical School in 2016, where I am currently completing the internship year to obtain my medical licensure. I joined the lab in 2023 after working on my MD thesis under the supervision of Martin Dichgans. My research interests revolve around how white blood cells – in particular macrophages – propel inflammation in atherosclerosis. I believe that insights into pro-inflammatory signaling pathways in concert with harnessing genomic, proteomic, histological and imaging data will open new avenues for the detection and prevention of cerebrovascular disease. To that end, I contribute to the design and operation of the AtherOMICS biobanking project. To relax and recover, I love cooking at home and supporting my favorite basketball clubs, along with playing recreational matches with friends on the outdoor court.
Marios Georgakis, Principal investigator
I am a clinician-scientist interested in stroke care and research. My overarching goal is to identify causal risk factors of cerebrovascular disease in order to inform preventive strategies for lowering the burden of stroke in the community. I believe that human genetics can offer key insights into disease pathophysiology, as evidenced by the comparatively high success rates of drugs with genetic support for their targets. As such, starting from large-scale genomic data, in my lab, we apply bioinformatic and high-throughput experimental analyses across multiple omics levels to discover causal mechanisms for cerebrovascular disease and inform the design of trials targeting.
Marios Georgakis, MD, PhD
Date of birth: October 31, 1991
Place of birth: Lefkada, Greece
2019-today: Clinical Residency in Neurology, LMU University Hospital, Munich, Germany
2017-2020: Doctoral studies (Ph.D.) in Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN), LMU Munich, Germany
2015-2019: Doctoral studies (D.Sc.) in Epidemiology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
2015-2017: Master studies (M.Sc.): Molecular Physiology (Neurosciences), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
2009-2015: Medical studies (M.D.): Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Positions and employment:
2022-: Junior Group Leader, Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research, LMU Munich
2022-: Visiting scientist, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA
2021-2022: Postdoctoral research fellow, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital & Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Boston, MA, USA
2020-2021: Postdoctoral researcher (clinician-scientist), Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research & Neurology Department, LMU University Hospital Munich
2020-: Neurology resident physician, Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research and Department of Neurology, LMU University Hospital, Munich
2017-2020: Doctoral researcher, Institute for Stroke and Dementia, University Hospital, LMU Munich
2015-2019: Doctoral researcher, Department of Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Athens
2016-2017: Master thesis student, Lab of Neurodegenerative diseases, Bio-academy of Athens (BRFFA)
2015-2017: Research assistant, Department of Women’s Health, Uppsala University
2013-2015: Undergraduate research fellow, Department of Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Athens
2021: CHARGE¨ Meritorious Abstract Award
2021-2022: Walter-Benjamin Fellowship for postdoctoral research by German Research Foundation (DFG)
2019: Best Oral Presentation at Meeting of International Stroke Genetics Consortium, St. Louis, US
2019: Best Poster award at European Stroke Organization Conference (ESOC 2019), Milan, Italy
2018-today: Scholarship for Doctoral studies by the Onassis Foundation
2018-2019: Research Grant for Doctoral studies by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
2015-2017: Scholarship for Master studies by the Bodossaki Foundation
2010-2015: Scholarship for Medical studies by the Antonios Papadakis legacy
2008: Third Award by Greek Mathematical Society in national “Euclid” exams
We gratefully acknowledge funding by the following funding organizations:
Dissecting the causes of cerebrovascular atherosclerosis with population genetics
2023 – 2026
Multi-omics characterization of the immune mechanisms driving human atheroprogression
2023 – 2029
Developing personalized biomarkers of subclinical arterial pathology with deep learning in carotid ultrasound images
2022 – 2025
Deconvoluting the immune landscape of carotid atherosclerosis
2022 – 2025
Elucidating the etiology of cryptogenic stroke with human genetics
2021 – 2022
Circulating MCP-1 levels and risk of recurrent cardiovascular events
2021 – 2022
Circulating levels of inflammatory cytokines and risk of stroke and its subtypes
2018 – 2020