Laboratory of Neural Plasticity

Neural stem cells (NSCs) generate new neurons throughout life in two distinct areas of the mammalian brain, the subventricular zone lining the lateral ventricles and the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Adult neurogenesis has been implicated in tissue homeostasis, physiologic brain function, and is also associated with a number of neuro-psychiatric diseases, such as cognitive aging and depression. Understanding the mechanisms underlying adult neurogenesis represents a prerequisite for future therapeutic targeting of adult NSCs for endogenous brain repair. Our previous work has identified several pathways/genes that are critically involved in certain steps, from the dividing NSC to the integrating newborn neuron, during the developmental course of adult neurogenesis. Further, we have participated in efforts to characterize the functional role of adult neurogenesis on a behavioral level. Currently, we use gene expression profiling together with analyses of the metabolic state of NSCs and their progeny to study the molecular framework of NSC diversity in the adult brain and to identify novel regulators of the neurogenic process. In addition, our laboratory aims to understand how physiologic and disease-associated alterations of the neurogenic niche are translated into stem cell-associated plastic changes of the adult brain on a cellular but also behavioral level.


Sebastian Jessberger is Professor for Neurosciences and Managing Director of the Brain Research Institute. He studied Medicine in Hamburg, Germany and carried out his medical thesis in the laboratory of Dietmar Kuhl at the Center for Molecular Neurobiology (ZMNH) in Hamburg. In 2002 he started a joint residency in the laboratory of Gerd Kempermann at the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and the Dept. of Neurology of the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, Germany. As a postdoctoral fellow (2004-2007) in the laboratory of Fred H. Gage at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, USA he continued to work on neural stem cell biology and neurogenesis in the adult brain. From 2007 to 2012 he was Assistant Professor at the ETH Zurich and joined the Brain Research Institute in August 2012. He is a fellow of the MaxnetAging network of the Max Planck Society and was awarded to join the EMBO Young Investigator program in 2011.