Focus of Research
The research efforts of the team are focused on infectious diseases of the brain with an emphasis on processes of neuronal injury and brain tissue repair in bacterial meningitis and viral encephalitis models. An expertise of the group is the complementary work in vitro and – when necessary - in vivo disease models of CNS infections, assessment of parameters of brain inflammation and brain damage and the pre-clinical evaluation of molecular therapeutics.
The clinical outcome of central nervous system infections is determined by the brain’s response to the pathogen. How infection leads to brain injury remains largely unresolved. An impediment to progress is the complexity of pathophysiologic processes, which involve a variety of microbial pathogens and spatially and temporally distinct mechanisms of brain damage, with the involvement of multiple mediators, immune cell types, target cells and pathways. Being a complex multifactorial disease, that is modulated by the interaction of the different brain cells with the microbial pathogens, infectious diseases of the CNS are prime targets for multidisciplinary efforts using integrative technologies including new disease models, functional genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics. Based on the knowledge gained from the basic research the group translationally develops and evaluates interventions that protect the brain from acute damage and support restorative functions of the brain e.g. neurogenesis. Novel therapeutic concepts that attenuate brain damage and support brain repair are further evaluated for their potential to preserve neuro-integrative function e.g. learning and hearing capacity in long term survivors of bacterial meningitis and other infectious diseases of the brain.