Principal Investigator

Project management

After studying social managment, I started working at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in 2010. First in the Cardiac Surgery Research Laboratory, from 2011 in the Medical Faculty. During this time, I completed a master`s degree in business consulting and project management. In March 2021, I switched to the Institute of Developmental Neurophysiology. Here I am responsible for administration, finance and the research group FOR5159 as coordinator. In my free time I run around the lake, take care of my animals and relax in the garden.

Post-Doc Researchers

xiaxia.xu [at]
I have a dual education with a bachelor degree in Mathematics and a master and PhD in Neuroscience at Nankai University (China). 2016, I joined the lab for a postdoctoral stage aiming to identify the role of early prefrontal dysfunction for the cognitive performance at adulthood. For this, I combine in vivo electrophysiology, in utero electroporation, optogenetics, digital signal processing and analysis, behavioral testing, etc. Outside the lab, I love physical activities. Walking, running, bouldering and yoga are my favorites.
steven.schepanski [at]
I studied psychology with an emphasis on psychobiology at the University of Bremen and Trier, Germany. After getting in touch with Behavioral Immunobiology (Prof. Schedlowski), I did my PhD as a balancing act between reproductive immunology and neuroscience as a collaboration between Petra Arck and Ileana Hanganu-Opatz. As a postdoctoral researcher, I will continue to elucidate the role of maternal microchimeric cells via multi-parameter flow cytometry, histomorphometry, immunohistochemistry, in vivo electrophysiology, behavioral experiments, genomics, and transcriptomics. Further, we are continuing to translate our results into human pregnancy cohorts.
[Personal Profile]
anne.guenther [at]

Ph.D. Students

johanna.kostka [at]
I studied Biophysics at the Humboldt University in Berlin and finished the research master Brain and Cognitive Science at the University of Amsterdam. In 2015 I started my PhD project in this group, which focuses on the question whether early sensory experience shapes neuronal network maturation and promotes later cognitive abilities. In contrast to other sensory modalities the sense of smell is already fully functional at birth and olfactory information reaches higher brain regions without by passing the thalamus. More specifically, I am investigating the influence of mitral cell activity in the olfactory bulb (OB) on the activity patterns of the LEC during early development. For this, I combine in vivo whole-cell patch clamp recordings with extracellular field potential recordings of neonatal mice.
[Personal Profile]
mattia.chini [at]
I studied medicine and surgery at the University of Padova, but never had too much passion for clinics. For this reason, just after my studies, I spent a year in Tononi’s lab investigating sleep function and regulation. Convinced of doing science, in summer 2016 I then joined the Opatz lab for my PhD. My interest is the development of cortical microcircuits in health and disease, with a particular focus on the interneuron side of things. I also have a (nerdy) fascination for the neuro-immune cross talk, and microglial cells in particular, which I give vent to when nobody is looking at me.
[Personal Profile]
E-mail: [at]
The fundamental question I am working in is the neuronal oscillation of prefrontal-hippocampal network in neonatal mice of mental illness. I joined the Optaz Lab in July 2017, after a several years study on neuronal migration and adult neruogenesis. My initial work as a PhD fellow contribute to the understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in coupling deficits in prefrontal-hippocampal networks in Disc1mutant mice. I use BDA injection, together with immunochemistry staining and electromicroscopy to uncover the how synaptic, cellular and network physiologically interact. My skillset will also combine in utero electroporation, multi-electrode recordings and optogenetic manipulations of prefrontal-hippocampal networks in the mice.
[Personal Profile]
jastyn.poepplau [at]
In 2012 I finished my education as technical assistant and started to study Molecular Life Science at the University of Hamburg. As student assistant I learned a lot about the projects of the group and got more and more interested in the processes of brain development. During my master thesis I performed a morphological characterization of distinct neuronal and glial cell populations after network manipulation at neonatal age. Since end of 2017 I started my PhD to identify the contribution of early electrical activity for the cognitive performance at adulthood. In my free time I like to go running with friends and to bake creative cakes.
marilena.hnida [at]
After I finished studying biology and neuroscience at the University of Bremen, I joined the lab in June 2018 to work on my PhD. My research focuses on the contribution of the lateral entorhinal cortex to the disturbed development of the prefrontal-hippocampal network in a mouse model of mental illness. In order to investigate the interactions between the three brain areas during development, I am combining multi-site electrophysiological recordings in awake juvenile mice with behavioral testing and optogenetic modulation.
yunan.chen [at]
Since late 2019 I joined the lab for my doctoral project. My main aim is
to investigate how the sensory entrainment of limbic systems is changing over neural development from neonatal to juvenile periods, with electrophysiological recordings. Alongside this, I’m interested in the potential important role of olfactory information processing during neonatal ages for later cognitive maturation. In leisure time, I like audio editing and enjoying a cup of tea. I’m also a fan of Chelsea football club.
[Personal Profile]
henrik.ostby [at]
After completing my master’s in neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which aimed to characterize the role of the serotonergic system in chronic stress resilience, I joined the Opatz-lab in the summer of 2020 as a PhD-student. Here in the Opatz-lab I aim to characterize the developmental trajectory of prefrontal – primary sensory connectivity in early life and its functional importance for later life in models of both health and disease. To investigate this, I combine in vivo multi-site electrophysiological recordings, optogenetic tools, neural circuit tracing techniques and behavioral testing.

Medical Students

gerrit.thomsen [at]
Shortly after finishing med-school at the University of Saarland I joined the Opatz-Lab for my medical degree. I always wanted to get a look behind the scenes of basic research, so I decided to dedicate a year to work full time in the lab on my doctoral studies before diving into clinical work. I am working with a mouse model of mental illness and look how changes in the expression of genes contribute to abnormal behavior of cells and circuits in the prefrontal cortex. For that, I combine transcriptome analysis with electrophysiological recordings.
rebecca.kringel [at]
Since 2017 I am studying medicine at the University of Hamburg. During my studies I became more and more interested in neuroscience. Therefore, I decided to join the Opatz lab to work on my doctoral thesis. I look into a mouse model of mental illness, using patch-clamp electrophysiology and immunohistochemistry. In particular, I investigate the functional and structural properties of the lateral entorhinal cortex as well as its connections to the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus.
timo.schwarze [at]
In 2017 I became a medical student at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. During the preclinical lectures, I became fascinated by the brain as a network. I always wanted to get a look into science at the bench and not just in books and that is why I decided to join the Opatz lab when I met Prof. Ileana Hanganu-Opatz in a mentorship program at my University.
My work mainly consists of immunohistochemistry in which I look into the morphological changes the prefrontal cortex undergoes during adolescence. While doing so, my focus lies on pyramidal neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex and their dendritic and synaptic changes. Another part of my work here are microglial cells and the potential effect on adolescent development they might have.

Master Students

irina.pochinok [at]
I studied Applied Mathematics and Informatics, and then worked in software development industry for nine years. 2018, my interest in neuroscience brought me to the University of Bremen where I started the master’s program. In September 2019 I joined the Opatz lab for doing my lab rotation project.

Technical Assistants

annette.marquardt [at]
I work since 2012 as technician in the lab of Prof. Ileana Hanganu-Opatz where I am involved in several projects. My field of work includes the preparation of brain slices mainly from the olfactory bulb, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, followed by immunhistochemistry and microscopy. Moreover, I am involved in tracing of axonal connections using Fluorogold, Biotinylated dextran amine and Cholera toxin B in young rats and mice. In addition, I am assisting with in utero electroporations, behavioral testing and PCRs. In my spare time I do a lot of sports as a coach in Aerobic and dance or as a member in a tennis team.
peggy.putthoff [at]
I’m working in the lab of Prof. Ileana Hanganu Opatz as a technician since January 2017.
I am involved in the tracing of BDA into the hippocampus in postnatal mice. We want to study the axonal connections from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex, which I analyze using electron microscopy.
In addition, I am responsible for breeding of various mouse-lines in our group and help with several molecular-biological methods, like plasmid DNA preparations and PCR.
In my free time I like to travel and to go jogging.
Achim Dahlmann


Dr. Joachim Ahlbeck
Dr. Malte Bieler
Dr. Sebastian Bitzenhofer
Dr. Marco D. Brockmann
Dr. Nicole Cichon
Nina Domnick
Nadine Faesel
Dr. Sabine Gretenkord
Dr. Henrike Hartung
Eva Jung
Hanna-Sophie Krüger
Dr. Christoph Lindemann
Miranda Mellendorf
Victoria Oberländer
Mareike Poburski
Dr. Beatrice Pöschel
Magdalena Rados
Samuel Reincke
Stephanie Riemann
Sandra Schildt
Dr. Kay Sieben
Kai Siebert
Veronika Sternemann
Dr. Amy Wolff