Empowering the Future of Neuroscience

Empowering the Future of Neurosceince

Blaess Group

The coordinated generation of a vast number of diverse neuronal cell types and their subsequent organization into neuronal networks during development is critical for the proper functioning of the adult brain. We are particularly interested in understanding the development and function of the dopaminergic system. Dopaminergic neurons modulate movement, reward behavior and cognition. Degeneration or dysfunction of dopaminergic neurons is implicated in several common human disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. There is increasing evidence that some of these disorders are linked to aberrant development of the underlying circuits. However, only little is known about the mechanisms that control the formation of the dopaminergic circuits in the healthy brain. We investigate how the identity of dopaminergic subpopulations is established during development and how this identity determines the final location and function of these same neuronal subsets in the murine adult brain by combining complex genetic labeling and gene manipulation strategies with functional and behavorial assays.

What are we offering?

Mouse Models: Transgenes, conditional gene inactivation, mosaic gene inactivation, genetic inducible fate mapping.
Histology: Paraffin- and Cryosectioning, RNA in situ hybridization, Immunohistochemistry.
Molecular biology: PCR, RNA and DNA analysis, protein analysis, gene cloning and sequencing.
Cell culture: Brain explant cultures, primry cell cultures.
Microscopy: Fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence live imaging.
Electrophysiology: patch-clamp and optogenetics in brain slices.

What are we interested in for collaboration?

Behavioral analysis, machine learning approaches for data analysis, activity recordings at the mesoscale

What platforms, analysis tools or facilities do we use and can share?

RNAScope, developmental genetic tools, intersectional genetic tools

Discover our homepage here.

To learn more about Prof. Dr. Sandra Blaess, follow her on ORCID.


  • Intersectional genetic approaches
  • Genetic lineage tracing
  • viral tracing tools
  • live-imaging and whole mount imaging
  • behavioral analysis

5 selected publications

  1. Tolve M, Ulusoy A, Islam KUS, Bodea GO, Öztürk E, Broske B, Mentani A, Wagener A, van Loo KMJ, Britsch S, Liu P, Khaled W, Baader S, Di Monte DA, Blaess S. (2020) The transcription factor BCL11A defines a distinctive subset of dopamine neurons in the developing and adult midbrain. Cell Reports, 36:109697
  2. Vaswani AR, Weykopf B, Hagemann C, Fried HU, Brüstle O, Blaess S. (2019) Correct setup of the substantia nigra requires Reelin-mediated fast, laterally-directed migration of dopaminergic neurons.eLife, 8:e41623.
  3. Kabanova A, Pabst M, Lorkowski M, Braganza O, Boehlen A, Nikbakht N, Pothmann L, Vaswani AR, Musgrove R, Di Monte AD, Sauvage M, Beck H, Blaess S. (2015) Function and developmental origin of a mesocortical inhibitory circuit. Nature Neuroscience 18:872-882.
  4. Bodea GO, Spille JH, Abe P, Senturk Andersson A, Acker-Palmer A, Stumm R, Kubitscheck U, Blaess S. (2014)Reelin and CXCL12 regulate distinct migratory behaviors during the development of the dopaminergic system.Development 141:661-73.
  5. Blaess S, Bodea GO, Kabanova A, Chanet S, Mugniery E, Derouiche A, Stephen D, Joyner AL. (2011) Temporal-spatial changes in Sonic Hedgehog expression and signaling reveal different potentials of ventral mesencephalic progenitors to populate distinct ventral midbrain nuclei. Neural Development 6:29.