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Molecular Brain Development

The mammalian neocortex is a highly complex and spatially heterogeneous structure, which has expanded significantly in mammalian evolution. Neocortical network function is at the heart of cognitive function and the increased complexity of the human neocortex may also have contributed to the emergence of a plethora of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Since major differences in brain anatomy and hence function between species arise during development, it is crucial to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing cortical development. While we have recently gained significant insights into the contribution of genetically "hard-wired" mechanisms of proliferation, differentiation, and maturation, less is known about the degree to which plasticity through neurotransmitter-mediated signaling influences cortical development.

We aim to understand how neurotransmitter signaling controls, cortical development and evolution by studying different mammalian species, most importantly mice and humans. This research is likely to yield important multi-omics insights into the cellular mechanisms of plasticity during cortical development and how they have been shaped by evolution. From a clinical point of view, neurotransmitter systems are a target of many drugs, thus providing the risk and potential to influence cortical development through environmental exposure in healthy and disease conditions, respectively.

Research projects

August 2020:

Our group has an open PhD position - we are looking forward to applications (until 21.08.2020).


July 2020:

From 11th to 15th July we are joining the first virtual FENS Forum (Dr. Simone Mayer).

We are looking forward to the talk of Prof. Dr. Urs Meyer, University of Zurich (Host: Dr. Simone Mayer) on 2nd July as part of the series Online Neuro Talks of the TübingenNeuroCampus.


June 2020:

Dr. Simone Mayer shares her experiences with RNAscope in an Online Seminar.

We are looking forward to participating in our first fully virtual conference at ISSCR 2020 - The Global Stem Cell Event.


May 2020:

The Hertie Foundation has talked with Dr. Simone Mayer about her research - check out the interview here.

Our review on new developments in the field of cerebral organoids is online. Many thanks to Drs. Shokoufeh Khakipoor and Elizabeth Crouch for their contributions!


April 2020:

We are excited to host the third Seminar der Neuro Campus Initiative "The Developing Brain" on 21.04.2020. This is also our first virtual seminar!

Many congratulations to Kseniia Sarieva for being awarded the doctoral fellowship of the state of Baden-Württemberg!


March 2020:

A warm welcome to our Master student Clemens Lumper!


February 2020:

Our work is featured in an interview on Neuromag.

Many thanks to our lab rotation student Dionysia Moschou for her contributions to our work!


January 2020:

Dr. Simone Mayer will present as an invited speaker at the Biological Colloquium of the Technical University Kaiserslautern.

 We are excited to host the second Seminar of the Neuro Campus Initiative "Pregnancy and Brain Development" on 21.01.2020


November 2019:

A warm welcome to our first PhD student, Kseniia Sarieva!


Oktober 2019:

Dr. Simone Mayer will present as an invited speaker at the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences at the University of Heidelberg.

Our review "Single-cell RNA-Sequencing in Neuroscience" is online - many thanks to the whole team for their contributions!


September 2019:

We are excited to host the first Seminar of the Neuro Campus Initiative "Pregnancy and Brain Development" on 24.9.19.

Dr. Simone Mayer is looking forward to joining the PhD student symposium "Horizons in Molecular Biology" as a speaker.


July 2019:

Many thanks to our interns Daniel Cozetto and Maxim Drömer for their contributions!


June 2019:

At the TNC Research Day we are excited to discuss with other scientists in Tübingen about brain development.


June 2019:

Research spotlight on our recent paper on multimodal single-cell analysis published. Check it out here!


May 2019:

Dr. Simone Mayer is participating in the Launch Event of the LifeTime Initiative in Berlin. Excited to join a European effort!


March 2019:

Dr. Shokoufeh Khakipoor is participating in the Workshop "Computational Single Cell Genomics" in Munich (26.-27.3.).

Dr. Simone Mayer and Dr. Cristiana Cruceanu are chairing a Symposium at the German Neuroscience Society meeting: "From normal brain development to pathology: what role does the environment play?" Interested? Join us on 21.3.19, 14.30-16.30 in Göttingen.


February 2019:

Publication of Simone's Multimodal Single Cell Analysis paper from the Kriegstein Lab. You can also check out its coverage on BrainPost.


January 2019:

Welcome to the Mayer lab, Elisabeth Gustafsson and Dr. Shokoufeh Khakipoor! 


August 2018:

Dr. Simone Mayer has been awarded the 2018 Young Investigator Award of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for research on intercellular communication in neocortical development.

Our projects focus on understanding how neurotransmitters modulate mammalian cortical development, evolution and disease emergence. We employ a large range of methodologies ranging from single-cell RNA-Sequencing to immunohistochemistry, live cell imaging, and mass spectrometry on cells and tissue samples from animal models and patient donations. In order to achieve this, we collaborate with experts in the fields of bioinformatics, biophysics, and biochemistry, as well as clinicians.

If you are interested in a Bachelor, Master or PhD thesis in the lab, please send an email stating your research interests together with your CV to Dr. Simone Mayer (


Mayer lab team, Summer 2019

Research Group
 Katharina Becker
Katharina Becker Technical Assistant
Molecular Brain Development
 Klaus Beyreuther
Klaus Beyreuther IT Development and Coordination
07071 29-87418 
 Elisabeth Gustafsson
Elisabeth Gustafsson Lab Manager
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-89191 
 Felix Hildebrand
Felix Hildebrand Bachelor Student
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-89191 
 Theresa Kagermeier
Theresa Kagermeier PhD Student
Molecular Brain Development
 Christina Kulka
Christina Kulka Master Student
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-89191 
Dr. Simone Mayer
Dr. Simone Mayer Group Leader
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-88870 
 Kseniia Sarieva
Kseniia Sarieva PhD Student
Molecular Brain Development
+49 (0)7071 29-89191 
 Zeynep Yentuer
Zeynep Yentuer PhD Student
Molecular Brain Development
 t ransfer
t ransfer
machine accounts

Original Publications

Kilisch M, Mayer S, Mitkovski M, Roehse, H, Hentrich, J, Schwappach, B, Papadopoulos, T. A GTPase-induced switch in phospholipid affinity of collybistin contributes to synaptic gephyrin clustering. J Cell Sci. 2020 Jan 13.

Jurek B, Chayka M, Kreye J, Lang K, Kraus L, Fidzinski P, Kornau HC, Dao LM, Wenke NK, Long M, Rivalan M, Winter Y, Leubner J, Herken J, Mayer S, Mueller S, Boehm-Sturm P, Dirnagl U, Schmitz D, Kölch M, Prüss H. Human gestational NMDAR autoantibodies impair neonatal murine brain function. Ann Neurol.  2019 Nov;86(5):656-670.

Schirmer L*, Velmeshev D*, Holmqvist S, Kaufmann M, Werneburg S, Jung D, Vistnes S, Stockley JH, Young A, Steindel M, Tung B, Goyal N, Bhaduri A, Mayer S, Engler JB, Bayraktar OA, Franklin RJM, Haeussler M, Reynolds R, Schafer DP, Friese MA, Shiow LR, Kriegstein AR, Rowitch DH. Neuronal vulnerability and multilineage diversity in multiple sclerosis. Nature. 2019 Jul 17.

Sorrells SF, Paredes MF, Velmeshev D, Herranz-Pérez V, Sandoval K, Mayer S, Chang EF, Insausti R, Kriegstein AR, Rubenstein JL, Manuel Garcia-Verdugo J, Huang EJ, Alvarez-Buylla A. Immature excitatory neurons develop during adolescence in the human amygdala. Nat Commun, 2019 Jun 21;10(1):2748.

Velmeshev D, Schirmer L, Jung D, Haeussler M, Perez Y, Mayer S, Bhaduri A, Goyal N, Rowitch DH, Kriegstein AR. Single-Cell Genomics Identifies Cell Type-Specific Molecular Changes in Autism. Science, 2019 May 17;364(6441):685-689.

Mayer S*, Chen J*, Velmeshev D, Mayer, A, Eze U, Paredes MF, Alvarado B, Wang S, Cunha CE, Lovegren N, Gonzales ML, Szpankowski, L, Leyrat, A,West, JAA, Alvarez-Buylla A, Nowakowski TJ, Pollen AA, Kriegstein AR. Multimodal single-cell analysis reveals physiological maturation in the developing human neocortex. Neuron, 2019 Apr 3;102(1):143-158.

Sorrells SF*, Paredes MF*, Cebrian-Silla A, Sandoval K, Qi D, Kelley KW, James D, Mayer S, Chang J, Auguste KI, Chang E, Gutierrez Martin AJ, Kriegstein AJ, Mathern GW, Oldham M, Huang EJ, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Yang Z, Alvarez-Buylla A. Human hippocampal neurogenesis drops sharply in children to undetectable levels in adults. Nature, 2018 Mar 15; 555(7696):377-381.

Mayer S, Kumar R, Jaiswal M, Soykan T, Ahmadian MR, Brose N, Betz H, Rhee JS, Papadopoulos T. Collybistin activation by GTP-TC10 enhances postsynaptic gephyrin clustering and hippocampal GABAergic neurotransmission. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Dec 17; 110(51):20795-800.

Kang HJ*, Kawasawa YI*, Cheng F*, Zhu Y*, Xu X*, Li M*, Sousa AM, Pletikos M, Meyer KA, Sedmak G, Guennel T, Shin Y, Johnson MB, Krsnik Z, Mayer S, Fertuzinhos S, Umlauf S, Lisgo SN, Vortmeyer A, Weinberger DR, Mane S, Hyde TM, Huttner A, Reimers M, Kleinman JE, Sestan N. Spatiotemporal transcriptome of the human brain. Nature 2011 Oct 26; 478(7370):483-9.



Khakipoor S, Crouch EE, Mayer S. Human organoids to model the developing human neocortex in health and disease. Brain Res. 2020.

Khakipoor S, Drömer MA, Cozetto DA, Mayer S. Single-cell RNA-Sequencing in Neuroscience. Neuroforum. 2019 Nov 06 , 25(4), 251-258.

Paredes MF*, Sorrells SF*, Cebrian-Silla A, Sandoval K, Qi D, Kelley KW, James D, Mayer S, Chang J, Auguste KI, Chang EF, Gutierrez Martin AJ, Kriegstein AR, Mathern GW, Oldham MC, Huang EJ, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Yang Z, Alvarez-Buylla A. Does Adult Neurogenesis Persist in the Human Hippocampus? Cell Stem Cell, 2018 Dec 6;23(6):780-78.

Mayer S, Kriegstein AR. The expansion of the cortical sheet in primates. In: Kaas, J (ed.), Evolution of Nervous Systems, 2e. vol. 3, pp. 59–71. Oxford: Elsevier. 2016.

Research group leader
Dr. Simone Mayer Address

Center of Neurology
Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
Independent Research Group "Molecular Brain Development"

Otfried-Müller-Straße 25
72076 Tübingen

Phone: +49 (0)7071 29-88870


Open positions


Open Hiwi position in molecular and cellular neurobiology

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