International Science at the DZNE

The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) celebrates its second anniversary on April 3rd, 2011 - and there's really something to celebrate: in the short period of its existence it has grown rapidly and now numbers more than 300 employees. The DZNE has developed into an internationally renowned research institution. This is also reflected in the number of staff from abroad. 28% of all scientists at the DZNE are from outside Germany, and the recruitment of German scientists working abroad has also brought “home” outstanding research talent. At the DZNE site in Bonn, the largest of the center's eight research sites, in fact more than half of the scientists are from abroad. "Research does not recognize national borders," says Founding Director Professor Pierluigi Nicotera, a native Italian. "We recruit top researchers from around the world, at every level of the career ladder. For scientists, it is extremely important that in the lab next door, there is another great researcher, with whom one can exchange ideas."

In February this year, the American Dr. Walker Jackson, previously at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), joined the DZNE to start his own research group. He will investigate why proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases do not affect all brain cells to the same extent. "When I visited the DZNE I was thrilled to find that everyone, from the support staff to the scientists to the leadership, are all excellent people, enthusiastic about the mission of the DZNE," says Jackson. In a neighboring laboratory, his compatriot Dr. Devon Ryan, previously of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), investigates the relationship between aging and neurodegenerative diseases in the laboratory of Dr. Dan Ehninger. "The DZNE has proved to be an attractive research environment, with a lively exchange of ideas among the various groups. For me, getting to know a research system outside the U.S. is an integral part of my scientific career growth" says Ryan.

For the German scientist Dr. Dieter Edbauer, the DZNE offered the opportunity to return to Germany after a five-year research stay at the MIT. In November 2009, he came to Munich as the first Helmholtz junior research group leader at the newly founded DZNE. The aim of his research is to identify new therapeutic targets for Alzheimer's disease by analyzing the molecular mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction.

Science has brought Prof. Donato Di Monte to many different places worldwide, from Italy to Sweden to the U.S. Before coming to the DZNE, he was Director of the Basic Research Department at the Parkinson’s Institute in California. "By joining the DZNE, I became part of a unique new research center based on the translation of laboratory discoveries into clinical progress. I have greatly enjoyed this challenge," says Di Monte.

The DZNE is a research institute within the Helmholtz Association. Its scientists investigate the causes of and risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease, and develop new treatment and health care strategies. The experts of the DZNE are located at the centers in Bonn-Cologne-Jülich, Tübingen, Munich, Rostock / Greifswald, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Wittenberg and Dresden. At all locations, the DZNE cooperates closely with universities and university hospitals as well as the non-university institutions.

Contact information:
Dr. Katrin Weigmann
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Press- and Public Relations
Tel:  +49 (0) 228 43302 263

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