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PhD Students (2017-2020)

A1: Neuron-Glia Interaction in Major Depression

Celia Roman, MSc

I did my Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Salamanca (Spain) and then I studied a Master in Neuroscience at Miguel Hernández University, where I had the opportunity to do the Master's Thesis in the Institute of Neurocience of Alicante. As part of the GRK emotion programme from UR, my PhD project is focus on the study of the plasticity of glia-neuron interactions in emotional dysfunctions, in particular the role of astrocytes in major depressive disorder and response to antidepressants.

Pohl Tobias

Tobias Pohl, MSc

 I studied biology at the LMU in Munich and did my bachelor’s thesis in the field of psychophysics. For the master’s degree, I continued my studies in biology at the LMU. My ongoing interest in the field of neurobiology led me to the composition of my master’s thesis with the title “Early life stress and stress reactivity as modulators of social behaviour and molecular changes in a mouse model of affective disorders” at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry in the department of stress neurobiology and neurogenetics.

For my GRK project, I aim to study the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying the emotional and social behaviours following loss of a bonded partner. More specifically, the focus of my research will be on the elucidation of the role of oxytocin, vasopressin, and CRF following the disruption of a pair bond. Here, I am using the monogamous prairie vole as a model organism. The studies will be conducted in collaboration with - and partly at - the Emory University in Atlanta (USA).

Grossmann Cindy 2
A3: Oxytocin and the regulation of fear

Cindy Grossmann, MSc

I did my undergraduates studies in Biology at the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse (France) and then I graduated with a master´s degree in Neuroscience, Cognition and Behaviour at the same University. During my master´s thesis, I focused on the impact of a hippocampal insulin resistance on the development of Alzheimer´s disease in a mouse model.
My PhD project aims to explore the role of oxytocin in regulation of fear and in particular, how this neuropeptide affects the extinction of cued and social fear. Using mating male mice as a physiological model of elevated brain OT-system activity, I study behavioural effects of oxytocin on fear extinction in paradigms such as cued and social fear conditioning. Within this context, I am interested in studying brain regions like the amygdala and the lateral septum to understand the underlying neuronal circuits and molecular mechanism underlying OT effects.

Straub Felix

Felix Straub

During studying molecular medicine at the universities of Ulm and Regensburg, I acquired great scientific and medical knowledge. In 2014 I finalized my bachelor thesis in the neurology clinic of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. I am absolutely impressed by the progress of medical research in the last decade and therefore I would like to contribute to new scientific facts. I am eager to use my medical and scientific knowledge to discover the function of the Spir/formin actin nucleator complex in plasticity of neuronal signaling.

Royer Melanie

Melanie Royer, MSc

I did my bachelor’s and master’s degree in Biology at the University of Regensburg. During my studies, the focus was on biochemistry, human genetics as well as neurobiology. With my project of the GRK starting in March 2017 I have the great opportunity to investigate the molecular background of emotional dysfunctions: in more detail, I will assess the involvement of coding and non-coding RNAs in social versus cued fear conditioning in mice. In this context, I also want to map a comprehensive path from OXTR activation to protein synthesis changes via pre- and post-transcriptional regulation through non-coding RNAs, resulting in altered behaviour of the animals.

Wagner Foto Violawagner

Viola Wagner

After the completion of my bachelor´s degree in psychology at the University of Giessen I continued my master studies at the University of Jena with focus on cognitive psychology and neuroscience. During my master studies I become familiar with fMRI that serves as a useful technique for the examination and localization of regions of interest and indicates underlying related neural processes in the human brain.
During my PhD project I´m going to examine the neural mechanisms of social and cued fear conditioning by using a fMRI based design. Furthermore, the present approach includes a pharmacological manipulation evoked by oxytocin. In sum, there is the aim to investigate the effects of intranasal Oxytocin during neural fear conditioning processes that will be supported by fMRI. Finally, we are looking forward to draw useful conclusions for patients who suffer from fear related disorders.


Carl-Philipp Meinung, MSc

Raised in Nuremberg, Germany, I did my Bachelor thesis in neurobiology at the University of Regensburg where I worked on the effects of neuropeptide S on social and cued fear. I stayed there to continue my studies as part of a biology master’s programme with individual focus on neurobiology, biochemistry and molecular human biology/anatomy. In 2016, I finished my master thesis under the title ‚The role of de-novo protein synthesis in the mediation of the anxiolytic effect of oxytocin‘.
Working on the GRK research project 7 now gives me the opportunity to combine the focal points of my undergraduate studies in a new context; under the working title ‚Astrocytic signaling and astrocyte-dependent behavioural effects under the influence of the neuropeptide oxytocin’ I aim to investigate the involvement of astrocytes in social fear, as well as the underlying molecular mechanisms of astrocytic responses to neuropeptides.

Bahr Lisa-marie

Lisa-Marie Bahr, MSc

After my bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Salzburg, I did my master’s degree at the University of Freiburg with the focus on Clinical Psychology, Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sciences. Within my project of the GRK, I will investigate the effect of a ligand binding to the Translocator Protein (TSPO) on psychosocial stress. As stress is a risk factor for the development of depressive and anxiety disorders, it seems an important starting point for therapy. The medicinal support of stress reduction could help to prevent these disorders and avoid chronification. Besides the pharmacological advancement towards a faster onset of action and fewer side effects, we aim to shed more light on the molecular functional level of stress using a translational approach.

Meyer Magdalena

Magdalena Meyer

I studied biology at the University of Regensburg and did my Bachelor’s and Master’s Thesis already in the field of Neurobiology. The scientific data that I generate during my Master’s Thesis will lay the foundation for my GRK project. I will focus on the oxytocin receptor-coupled signaling cascades in neuronal cell lines and rats that have been infused with oxytocin. The aim of my project is to create a model of intracellular events that follow oxytocin receptor activation, to better understand the endogenous oxytocin system and potentially predict behavioral and physiological consequences of synthetic oxytocin treatment.

A10: Mitochondria in Emotional Dysfunction

Kerstin Kuffner, MSc

I achieved my B.Sc. in Biology at the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg. For my M.Sc. in Biology I came to Regensburg. I did my Master's Thesis in Neurobiology on Oxytocin receptor signalling. For the PhD Thesis I will work on Mitochondria Dysfunction in Depression in the group of Molecular Neurosciences supervised by Prof. Christian Wetzel.

Associated PhD Students

Bludau Anna Sw

Anna Bludau

I achieved my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Biology from the University of Regensburg in 2015. During my master thesis at the Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neuroscience, I already focused on the gene-regulatory function of microRNAs in the central nervous system. Here, I´m especially interested in microRNAs involved in oxytocin receptor signalling, which is also the topic of my PhD thesis. Moreover as associate of P5, I will assess the influence of microRNAs in social fear conditioning in mice by means of microRNA DeepSequencing, qRT-PCR, Western Blot, as well as inhibition or mimicking of microRNA function in vitro and in vivo.

Marianella Masis

Franziska Maurer Bild

Franziska Maurer

I am currently studying Medicine at the University of Regensburg, aiming to specialize in Psychiatry and Neurology.
I am especially interested in neuropsychological questions like ‘How does the brain interact with environmental influences, stimuli and stress situations?’ ’How do mental illnesses develop?’ ’Which psychological and biochemical processes are the cause of these diseases and how can medication influence the various metabolic disorders?’
Working on the GRK project 8 ‘TSPO and Human Stress Regulations’, I will have the opportunity to do research on the Translocator Protein (TSPO), which is located in the mitochondria and plays a vital role in the synthesis of neurosteroids. Neurosteroids can influence certain neurotransmitter-receptors in the brain and are therefore important for the processing of fear, anxiety and stress.
Our project aims to investigate the function of TSPO in stress regulations by means of a clinical study, in which the effects of pharmacological interventions will be documented and evaluated.


Rohit Menon

Born and raised in India, I completed my Bachelors in Biotechnology from YCMOU, Nashik. Having completed my Bachelors, I moved to Uppsala University in Sweden from where I did my Masters in Biology (Molecular Cell Biology). Finally, for my PhD I moved to Regensburg and I am associated with the GRK. Considering my background, I was always interested in studying the molecular basis of emotions. The extent to which the environment influences an individual’s emotional disposition has only been truly appreciated in the last decade. It is the epigenome, with DNA methylation, histone modifications, histone variants, non-coding RNA and other types of epigenetic markings which, in concert, define the localised chromatin structures and provide a molecular bridge between genes and “the environment". My main research interest lies is in dissecting the molecular mechanisms orchestrate social fear processing in the mice brain. I am looking at this emotion from the vantage point of the endogenous oxytocin system adaptations and epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation and histone modifications.


Jonas Reichenberger

I did my bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Vienna (Austria) and then I graduated with a master’s degree in Psychology at the University of Regensburg. During my master’s thesis, I focused on learning and unlearning of fear reactions in social phobia. In addition, I used innovative techniques like Virtual Reality to optimize the experimental environment and enhance ecological validity. Since 2015, I worked as research assistant at the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Regensburg.
My PhD aims to investigate the relevance of social-emotional learning processes for the development, maintenance and therapy of social anxiety. Main target of my project is to characterize learning and unlearning mechanisms that underlie social fear conditioning (SFC) in humans and Virtual Reality will be used for an ecological valid SFC paradigm.

Tribelhorn Julian 2016-10

Julian Triebelhorn

20I3, I started studying medicine in Regensburg.
During my education one organ became of special interest to me: the Brain. I am eager to find out more about the way we think and to learn more about neurological and psychiatric diseases. So I am very happy to be working on my medical doctored, researching the role of mitochondria in the aetiopathogenesis of major depressive disorder.

Winter Foto Jw Grk

Julia Winter

I studied biology at the University of Regensburg, where I focused on molecular biology, zoology, immunology and neurobiology. During my master thesis at the University clinic, I investigated the influence of certain chemokine receptors on nephron development. Immediately after, I started my Ph.D. thesis in Prof. Neumann’s lab under the supervision of Dr. Jurek.
The main research interest of my project is centered around the molecular effects of oxytocin receptor signaling. Thereby, my studies focus on chronic oxytocin receptor activation and its downstream signaling cascades. In order to do so, I make use of several behavioral and molecular techniques (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9).
My overall aim is to establish an in vitro cell model that allows a deeper insight into the mechanisms that underlie the behavioral effects of chronic oxytocin treatment.



Graduate Programme: "Neurobiology of Social & Emotional Dysfunctions"

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