Gerd Kempermann - Genomics of Regeneration

Gerd Kempermann

1993 Medical Doktor (Dr. med.) University of Freiburg, Germany

1993-1995 Assistant in Clinical Neuropathology (Benedikt Volk).

1995-1998 Postdoctoral fellow Salk Institute La Jolla (Fred H. Gage), USA

1998-2000 Clinical Neurologist at Regensburg University, Germany

1999 Heinz Maier-Leibniz Award Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

2000 Research group leader MDC Berlin-Buch, Germany

2001 in addition: Volkswagenstiftung Research Group at Dept. of Experimental Neurology, Charité, Germany

2002 Habilitation in Experimental Neurology

since 2007 Professor for Genomics of Regeneration, CRTD

since 2009 Speaker DZNE, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dresden

Previous and Current Research

Adult neurogenesis and stem cell biology of the adult brain Against common wisdom even the adult and aging brain can generate new neurons from a population of resident stem cells but it does so only in two privileged regions and on a minute scale. This process, adult neurogenesis, however, is tightly linked to brain function in the hippocampus, a brain area centrally involved in learning and memory processes. This connection makes it likely that adult neurogenesis serves a fundamental function for higher cognitive functions.

Why is activity good for the brain?
It is common wisdom that leading an active life is benefical. But how do changes on a cellular level contribute to adaptation processes that allow the brain (and with it its owner) to age successfully? How can we train our brains to better withstand disease and age-related impairment? What can we do, if impairment and disease are already there? Both physical and cognitive activity regulate adult neurogenesis. Thereby, training and activity very directly act upon stem cells in the brain and induce them to produce neurons that serve a function in learning and memory.

The Genomics of Regeneration group at the CRTD is interested in adult neurogenesis and stem cell biology of the adult brain, covering four research areas:

  1. We examine the activity-dependent control of adult neurogenesis and of other precursor cell populations in the brain and try to understand how the stem cells receive and translate the signal that new neurons are needed. To reach this aim we study adult neurogenesis in the mouse brain and use environmental enrichment (as a cognitive stimulus) and voluntary physical activity as stimuli to increase adult neurogenesis.
  2. We also mimic these conditions on isolated precursor cells in cell culture experiments and try to understand, how genes and environment interact at the level of stem cells in vitro. We try to develop better neural stem cell cultures and use biomaterials to make culture conditions more life-like.
  3. We investigate how the activity-dependent regulation of adult neurogenesis functions on a molecular level. We are not so much interested in the particular contribution of individual genes (as important as these obviously are) but in the behavior of large genetic networks — hence the emphasis on genomics rather than genetics in our group name. We use large-scale gene expression studies and phenotypic analyses in defined sets of mouse strains (so-called genetic reference populations) as well as sophisticated biomathematical tools to learn about how high-dimensional gene-gene interactions respond to the activity-dependent stimulus and affect the stem cells and developing new neurons.
  4. We study how exactly new neurons in the adult brain might contribute to brain function and how a failure of adult neurogenesis might contribute to brain disease or cognitive impairment in aging. We closely collaborate with psychiatrists, neurologists, and psychologists to root our mouse research tightly in knowledge from the human situation. The main disorders we are focusing on are depression and age-related cognitive impairment and dementias.


 Coronal Sections. Hippocampus of a mouse.


Group Members

List of group members

Selected publications

Wolf SA, Melnik A, Kempermann G. Physical exercise increases adult neurogenesis and telomerase activity, and improves behavioral deficits in a mouse model of schizophrenia. Brain Behav Immun. 2010 Oct 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Kempermann G, Fabel K, Ehninger D, Babu H, Leal-Galicia P, Garthe A, Wolf SA. Why and how physical activity promotes experience-induced brain plasticity. Front Neurosci. 2010 Dec 8;4:189.

Kempermann G. Seven principles in the regulation of adult neurogenesis. Eur J Neurosci. 2011 Mar;33(6):1018-24.

Knoth R, Singec I, Ditter M, Pantazis G, Capetian P, Meyer RP, Horvat V, Volk B, Kempermann G. Murine features of neurogenesis in the human hippocampus across the lifespan from 0 to 100 years. PLoS One. 2010 Jan 29;5(1):e8809.

Lugert S, Basak O, Knuckles P, Haussler U, Fabel K, Götz M, Haas CA, Kempermann G, Taylor V, Giachino C. Quiescent and active hippocampal neural stem cells with distinct morphologies respond selectively to physiological and pathological stimuli and aging. Cell Stem Cell. 2010 May 7;6(5):445-56.

Garthe A, Behr J, Kempermann G. Adult-generated hippocampal neurons allow the flexible use of spatially precise learning strategies. PLoS ONE.;4(5):e5464.

Ramírez-Rodríguez G, Klempin F, Babu H, Benítez-King G, Kempermann G. Melatonin Modulates Cell Survival of New Neurons in the Hippocampus of Adult Mice. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009, 34(9):2180-91.

Wolf SA, Steiner B, Akpinarli A, Kammertoens T, Nassenstein C, Braun A, Blankenstein T, Kempermann G. CD4-positive T lymphocytes provide a neuroimmunological link in the control of adult hippocampal neurogenesis. J Immunol. 2009 Apr 1;182(7):3979-84.

Mirochnic S, Wolf S, Staufenbiel M, Kempermann G. Age effects on the regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis by physical activity and environmental enrichment in the APP23 mouse model of Alzheimer disease. Hippocampus. 2009 Feb 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Petrus DS, Fabel K, Kronenberg G, Winter C, Steiner B, Kempermann G. NMDA and benzodiazepine receptors have synergistic and antagonistic effects on precursor cells in adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Jan;29(2):244-52.

Jessberger S, Aigner S, Clemenson GD Jr, Toni N, Lie DC, Karalay O, Overall R, Kempermann G, Gage FH. Cdk5 regulates accurate maturation of newborn granule cells in the adult hippocampus. PLoS Biol. 2008 Nov 11;6(11):e272.

Walzlein JH, Synowitz M, Engels B, Markovic DS, Gabrusiewicz K, Nikolaev E, Yoshikawa K, Kaminska B, Kempermann G, Uckert W, Kaczmarek L, Kettenmann H, Glass R. The antitumorigenic response of neural precursors depends on subventricular proliferation and age. Stem Cells. 2008 Nov;26(11):2945-54. Epub 2008 Aug 28.

Hodge RD, Kowalczyk TD, Wolf SA, Encinas JM, Rippey C, Enikolopov G, Kempermann G, Hevner RF. Intermediate progenitors in adult hippocampal neurogenesis: Tbr2 expression andcoordinate regulation of neuronal output. J Neurosci. 2008 Apr 2;28(14):3707-17.

Kempermann G. The neurogenic reserve hypothesis: what is adult hippocampal neurogenesis goodfor? Trends Neurosci. 2008 Apr;31(4):163-9. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Babu H, Cheung G, Kettenmann H, Palmer TD, Kempermann G. Enriched monolayer precursor cell cultures from micro-dissected adult mouse dentate gyrus yield functional granule cell-like neurons. PLoS ONE. 2007 Apr 25;2:e388

Wolf SA, Kronenberg G, Lehmann K, Blankenship A, Overall R, Staufenbiel M, Kempermann G. Cognitive and physical activity differently modulate disease progression in the amyloid precursor protein (APP)-23 model of Alzheimer's disease. Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Dec 15;60(12):1314-23

Bick-Sander A, Steiner B, Wolf SA, Babu H, Kempermann G. Running in pregnancy transiently increases postnatal hippocampal neurogenesis in the offspring. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Mar 7;103(10):3852-7

Wiskott L, Rasch MJ, Kempermann G. A functional hypothesis for adult hippocampal neurogenesis: avoidance of catastrophic interference in the dentate gyrus. Hippocampus. 2006;16(3):329-43

Kempermann G, Chesler EJ, Lu L, Williams RW, Gage FH. Natural variation and genetic covariance in adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 17;103(3):780-5

Kronenberg G, Bick-Sander A, Bunk E, Wolf C, Ehninger D, Kempermann G. Physical exercise prevents age-related decline in precursor cell activity in the mouse dentate gyrus. Neurobiol Aging. 2006 Oct;27(10):1505-13

Kempermann G, Jessberger S, Steiner B, Kronenberg G. Milestones of neuronal development in the adult hippocampus. Trends Neurosci. 2004 Aug;27(8):447-52

Kempermann G, Kronenberg G. Depressed new neurons--adult hippocampal neurogenesis and a cellular plasticity hypothesis of major depression. Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Sep 1;54(5):499-503

van Praag H, Kempermann G, Gage FH. Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus.Nat Neurosci. 1999 Mar;2(3):266-70

Kempermann G, Kuhn HG, Gage FH. More hippocampal neurons in adult mice living in an enriched environment. Nature. 1997 Apr 3;386(6624):493-5 

Last Modified: 17/04/2014