Research group leader


  • Alarcão Rodrigo, PhD student
  • Barcos Sara, lab technician
  • Borovko Irina, PhD student
  • Bouillet Elisa, lab technician
  • Brenna Amandine, PhD student
  • Enzmann, Gaby, PhD
  • Fujisawa Miwako, PhD
  • Guimbal Sarah, PhD
  • Kasap Pelin, PhD student
  • Kloster Florencia, PhD student
  • Pareja Javier, PhD student
  • Peymaei Sarmad, PhD student
  • Pleskač Petr, PhD student
  • Stüdle Chiara, PhD

Research focuses

  • Neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases with a focus on multiple sclerosis, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Role of endothelial, epithelial, fibroblast and glial brain barriers in CNS immune privilege and pathology
  • Immune function of the choroid plexus
  • Characterization of the BBB of MS patients


  • Animal models of MS, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Advanced in vivo and in vitro imaging of immune cell migration in the CNS using novel brain barrier reporter mice
  • Mouse and human in vitro models of the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barriers
  • Mouse and human in vitro models of the blood-brain barrier
  • Functional tests for BBB: TEER, permeability, immune cell trafficking
  • hiPSC derived models of the BBB including endothelial cells, pericytes, astrocytes
  • microfluidics

Short description

The central nervous system (CNS) is an immunologically privileged site, where entry of circulating immune cells is tightly controlled by the endothelial blood-brain barrier (BBB) at the level of CNS microvessels and by the epithelial blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier (BCSFB) at the level of the choroid plexus epithelial cells. In our opinion the neuroanatomy setting the stage for the immune privilege of the CNS is a historic concept as it resembles the architecture of a medieval castle. Due to the specialized structure of the CNS barriers, immune cell entry into the CNS parenchyma obeys special mechanisms.   Our research projects are dedicated to delineate not only the anatomical routes but in particular also the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the migration of different immune cell subsets across the BBB and BCSFB into the CNS during health and disease. Specifically, we study these processes during normal immunosurveillance and in neuroinflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis or stroke.
Toward these goals, we employ in vivo live cell imaging approaches in mouse models for multiple sclerosis (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, EAE) and stroke (middle cerebral artery occlusion) using genetically modified mice. These approaches are complemented by imaging in mouse and human in vitro models for the BBB to study the multi-step extravasation of immune cells across the BBB under physiological flow conditions. Using in vitro BBB models, we study the cellular pathways - transcellular versus paracellular- of immune cell diapedesis as well as the role of BBB integrity for leukocyte extravasation. Finally, using in vitro models for the BCSFB we also investigate how immune cells can cross this epithelial barrier to enter the CNS.

Further information

Research group’s website