Key research areas

  • Topography, tomography and chemoarchitecture of the human brain
  • Development and differentiation of the brain of various vertebrates
  • Expression of glycoconjugates and apoptosis-associated proteins
  • Neurodegeneration in the Parkinson model
  • Morphometry, structural and chronological reorganisation of the human brain following neurodegenerative illnesses
  • Peripheral nervous system and connecting tissue
  • Cyclical modulations of the endometrium

The Institute of Anatomy I is integrated into the preclinical training of students in the human and dental medicine sectors. The basics of macroscopic and microscopic morphology of the human body are taught within the context of lectures and practical courses, focusing on the clinical applicability of these findings.

In the field of research, the Institute focuses on morphology, in particular of the nervous system. The methodological spectrum covers light-optical and electron microscopy, image processing and quantitative evaluation, embedding methods, cell culture, and immunochemical and molecular-biological technology.

Patient care

As a preclinical institute, the Institute of Anatomy I is not involved in direct patient care.

Research and Teaching

Research concentrates on the development, structure, function and pathology of the human brain. Work is being carried out on the further development of a computerised brain atlas and a database on structural elements, nomenclature and variability of the brain.

The key areas of architectural analysis of the brain involve cartography of the molecular and functional properties of the cortex and subcortical core areas of the forebrain. There is also a series of further academic projects, mostly international multicentre studies, including comparative neuroanatomic studies on molecular development of the brain in different species and characterisation of the expression patterns of neuroactive substances under normal conditions and in illness models in animals.

Another key area results from cooperation with the Düsseldorf Neurological Clinic. Morphological changes following neurodegenerative illnesses or strokes are quantified. An image processing method, voxel-guided morphometry (VGM), has been developed enabling the detection of miniature spatial changes in the human brain using T1-weighted MRT image sequences. With regard to strokes, the results reveal extensive degenerative changes in the human brain in the case of anatomically interconnected structures.

In human beings, differences in somatosensorics are known but there has been virtually no research in the detailed organisation and interindividual variability of the peripheral nervous system which provide a basis for this purpose. Similarly, an interaction between the nervous and immune systems is described whose links are not clear. Therefore, further projects are concerned with quantification of the peripheral nervous system, in particular in skin, and characterisation of the innervation of immunocompetent organs.

Further topics include questions on the heterogeneity of fibrocytes in human connective tissue and their changes in pathology and on cellular morphology and endocrinology of the endometrium in various conditions.

In addition to classic training in the field of anatomy, new paths in vocational and further training are being taken at the Institute. Thus, for example, several multimedial, partially Web-based learning programmes have been developed to make teaching more efficient and to facilitate preparation for clinical activities. These programmes are being sponsored within the context of the “Notebook University” Programme.

Furthermore, production work is being carried out on videosequences of important dissection steps for the “classic” dissection course as well as on interactive interpretation aids for medical computer imaging, as are being obtained for example by means of radiological imaging techniques. Thanks to their excellent structural resolution, such computer images offer an until recently unanticipated wealth of information about the structure of the living human body; these images not only correspond to traditional three-dimensional conceptions as trained within the context of dissection courses, but also represent cross-sections or projections. Hence, interpretation aids also serve as further training for doctors and as a source of reference for telemedical applications.

In addition, work is being carried out on production of a digital database for cytology, histology and microscopic anatomy and on a digital atlas of the human brain.

More information

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