Principal Investigator

Project assistant

kathrin.harringa [at]

I am a lawyer by training, having also the degree of a Master of Business Administration in higher education and research management.
After having worked as a project manager for a FP7 funded European Research Project in Brussels, I started in Autumn 2013 to support the DFG funded Priority program 1665 “Resolving and manipulating neuronal networks in the mammalian brain – from correlative to causal analysis” at the UKE. This program is an interdisciplinary and seminal collaborative endeavor that aims at capitalizing on this recent technological and analytical progress for elucidating the relationship between neurons, networks and behavior. It runs for an initial period of 6 years and will end in Fall 2019. During this time I am coordinating and accompanying over 90 PIs and co-workers from all over Germany in administrative and financial matters.
SPP 1665

Post-Doc Researchers

sabine.gretenkord [at]
I was trained as a Mathematician at the University of Münster and Humboldt University of Berlin. After receiving my degree in 2010, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust MRes/PhD scholarship in systems neuroscience. During my PhD at Newcastle University, UK, I worked on dopaminergic modulation of slow-wave sleep activity in the prefrontal cortex. I joined the group as a Postdoc in 2015, now investigating neonatal brain activity. In neonatal rodents, several structures of the limbic system show coordinated activity patterns, the origin of which remains unclear. I investigate the role of olfactory cues and olfactory bulb activity in the generation these activity patterns. My second project is to develop a method for chronic electrophysiological recordings in neonatal rats. This method will allow the assessment of early brain activity in awake, behaving neonates.
[Personal Profile]
sebbitz [at]
After studying biology and neuroscience at the universities of Hannover and Bremen in Germany, I moved to Hamburg for my doctoral studies at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, where I am currently working as a postdoc. My research focuses on activity-dependent development of microcircuits in the medial prefrontal cortex and their role in oscillatory activity promoting cognitive abilities. Therefore, I am combining in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology of single neurons and neuronal population activity with optogenetic manipulations in developing rodents. Outside of the lab, I like to free my mind by running and bouldering.
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.

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]
steven.schepanski [at]
While I studied psychology I became more and more interested into stress biology and the link to mental illnesses. In the Schedlowski lab at the University Hospital Essen, I became familiar with the reciprocal connection of nervous, endocrine, and immune system. Totally fascinated by stress perception, I applied for my Master thesis at the laboratory of Professor Dr. Arck at the UKE. Here, I spent my time investigating the role of maternal stress for the reproductive outcome. After my graduation I wanted to switch back on how stress programs mental health adversities in the progeny and started my PhD project as cooperation between the Opatz and Arck lab.
Today, I aim to elucidate the mechanisms by which certain maternal immune cells and stress hormones shapes the development of neural networks involved in cognitive processing in mice. Further, I am investigating how human stress perception during pregnancy influences the children’s neurocognitive development at early ages.
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.
laura.carol [at]
marilena.hnida [at]


Medical Students

victoria.oberlaender [at]
I finished in the end of 2016 my studies in medicine in Kiel, but before starting my career as a doctor I chose to dedicate myself to research and to conduct an experimental MD for one year. In my project I investigate the development of the neuronal circuit between the prelimbic cortex and the intermediate hippocampus in different animal models of mental illness regarding the electrophysiological function, morphological alterations and cognitive behavior. My methods are In vivo electrophysiology, In utero electroporation and behavior studies. In my free time I like to go kitesurfing in the Northern or Baltic Sea.
[Personal Profile]


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 member of 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. Marco D. Brockmann
Dr. Nicole Cichon
Nina Domnick
Nadine Faesel
Dr. Henrike Hartung
Hanna-Sophie Krüger
Dr. Christoph Lindemann
Dr. Beatrice Pöschel
Samuel Reincke

Stephanie Riemann
Sandra Schildt
Dr. Kay Sieben
Kai Siebert
Dr. Amy Wolff