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Max-Planck-Institut für neurologische Forschung

Institutional Profile

The Institute was founded in 1982 out of the Forschungsstelle fuer Hirnkreislaufforschung (Cerebral Circulation Research Unit) which, in turn, had developed out of the General Neurology Department of the Max-Planck-Institut fuer Hirnforschung (MPI for Brain Research) in 1978. The Institute conducts research into neurological diseases, especially those associated with disorders of the cerebral blood flow. It consists of two autonomous Departments, one of which studies the basic experimental aspects while the other, within the framework of the Neurological Clinic of the University of Cologne, investigates the clinical phenomena. The cooperation of these two Departments produces new results about the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of neurological disorders, pointing to the development of new therapeutic methods.

Despite basic conceptual differences between experimental and clinical research, progress can only be achieved in this field if both approaches are followed in a manner characterized by close cooperation and mutual inspiration. Whereas basic experimental research focuses on understanding the pathophysiological and pathobiochemical mechanisms of disease, clinical research must in addition exploit this knowledge to the benefit of the patient. All diagnostic efforts must be ultimately directed towards the development of rational therapies directed towards improving or reversing the individual course of the disease. Basic clinical research is most successful when the following requirements are fulfilled:

a thorough understanding of the experimental and clinical pathophysiology
access to both experimental and clinical facilities; access to patients with the same diseases studied under experimental conditions
non-invasive methodologies which allow verification in patients of pathophysiological concepts derived from experimental investigations
the transfer of experimental insights into new therapeutical strategies.

The Max Planck Institute for Neurolocical Research provides almost ideal working conditions to cope with these requirements. The Department of Experimental Neurology investigates the pathophysiology and pathobiochemistry of clinically relevant animal experimental models using a broad methodological spectrum that stretches from molecular biology to in-vivo magnetic resonance tomography and spectroscopy. The Department of General Neurology cooperates closely with the Neurological Clinic of the University Cologne, which assures both access to neurological patients and the feedback of clinical problems into ongoing experimental research. The Max Planck Institute augments the routine diagnostic facilities of the University Clinic by developing and supporting innovative instrumentation for advanced clinical research.

Areas of Work

Investigations of regional physiologic variables (blood flow, oxygen consumption, glucose metabolism, blood volume) in the brain by positron emission tomography (PET) in physiologic and pathologic conditions, especially in ischemic stroke, brain tumours , dementias , and epilepsia (Heiss).
Pathophysiology and pathobiochemistry of experimental brain infarcts; resuscitation of the nervous system following cardiac arrest. Development and application of functional NMR methods and spectroscopy (Hossmann).

Scientific Collaboration


  • Research projects within Special Research Project SFB 194 "Changes of Structure and Function in the Central Nervous System" and the German Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology programmes "Neurotraumatology and Neuropsychologic Rehabilitation" and "Stroke"
  • Cooperation with the Institutes for Biology and Chemistry of the University of Bremen in the development and application of spectroscopic imaging procedures;
    Cooperative project "Gene Therapy of Brain Tumours" with the Department of Stereotactic Neurosurgery, the Institute of Genetics of the University of Cologne and the company Qiagen
  • Cooperation with the Department of Neurosurgery of the University of Munich in activation studies in patients with low grade gliomas;
    Cooperation with Siemens/CTI on the development of a high-resolution research tomograph with innovative detectors (lutetium ortho-silicate).


  • Concerted Action on PET (European Community)
  • Exchange of scientists and cooperative projects with the Departments of Neurosurgery and Internal Medicine, University of Osaka, Japan;
  • Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Kejo University, Tokyo, Japan;
  • Department of Neurosurgery, Tokyo University, Tokyo, Japan;
  • Centre of Biomolecular Research, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.


Max-Planck-Institut für neurologische Forschung

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