Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

University Department of Neurology

Neurochemical Laboratory


Prof. Dr. med. S. Vielhaber


Dr. rer. nat. Grazyna Debska-Vielhaber
PD Dr. rer. nat. habil. Frank N. Gellerich
Dr. rer. nat. habil. Zemfira Gizatullina
Kerstin Kaiser (MTAL)
Jeannette Witzke (MTAL)


What do we offer:

While neurons may be lost for a variety of reasons during the course of neurodegenerative diseases, the final pathway to neuronal death often entails a comparable set of processes. This final pathway has been termed "programed cell death" or "apoptosis." It is characterized by a well-defi ned cascade of biochemical reactions that in part involve the mitochondria, which are the `power plants´ of cells. In Magdeburg, there is a long history of expertise in mitochondrial research. In the Neurochemistry Lab of the Dept. of Neurology we are addressing three major questions:

Research Activities

Basic research by F. N. Gellerich has revealed a new calcium-dependent mechanism that activates mitochondrial metabolism. He has dubbed this mechanism the `mitochondrial gas pedal.´ This mechanism regulates how mitochondria are supplied with pyruvate, their primary substrate. It operates in all tissues, but is particularly important in neurons because in neurons mitochondria have no other substrate available (Fig. 1).


  • Piotr Bednarczyk Ph.D., Dept. of Biophysics, Warsaw University of Life Science, SWWG, Polen
  • Prof. Dr. Erich Gulbins, Institut für Molekularbiologie (Tumorforschung), Universitätsklinikum Essen
  • Dr. rer. nat. Katrin S. Lindenberg, Experimental Neurology, Center for Clinical Research, Ulm
  • Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Elmar Kirches, Institut für Neuropathologie, Magdeburg
  • Prof. Bernard Korzeniewski, Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Polen
  • Prof. Wolfram Kunz Ph.D. Abt. Neurochemie, Klinik für Epileptologie und Life & Brain Center Universitätsklinikum Bonn
  • Prof. Jeffery Molkentin, Ph. D., Dept. of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati, USA
  • Anna Olszewska, Ph.D., Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Academy of Science, Warschau, Polen
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Jens Pahnke, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Magdeburg
  • Dr. rer. nat. habil. Kalju Paju Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, University of Tartu, Estland
  • Prof. Suhel Parvez Ph.D., Dept. of Toxicology, Hamdard Universität, Neu Delhi, Indien
  • Prof. Dr. Peter Schönfeld, Institut für Biochemie und Zellbiologie, OvG-Universität, Magdeburg
  • Prof. Joanna Sczepanowska, Ph.D., Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Academy of Science, Warschau, Polen
  • Cand. med. Joosep Seppet, Institute of General and Molecular Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tartu, Estland
  • Prof. Adam Szewczyk Ph.D., Direktor des Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Academy of Science, Warschau, Polen
  • Dr. med. Marten Szibor, Research Program of Molecular Neurology University of HELSINKI, Finnland
  • Prof. Lech Wojtczak Ph. D., Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Academy of Science, Warschau, Polen

Selected References

Mitochondrial dysfunction in primary human fibroblasts triggers an adaptive cell survival program that requires AMPK-α. Distelmaier. F, Valsecchi F, Liemburg-Apers DC, Lebiedzinska M, Rodenburg RJ, Heil S, Keijer J, Fransen J, Imamura H, Danhauser K, Seibt A, Viollet B, Gellerich FN, Smeitink JA, Wieckowski MR, Willems PH, Koopman WJ. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Mar;1852(3):529-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2014.12.012. Epub 2014 Dec 20. PMID: 25536029.

Knockout of cyclophilin D in Ppif-/- mice increases stability of brain mitochondria against Ca2+ stress. Gainutdinov T, Molkentin JD, Siemen D, Ziemer M, Debska-Vielhaber G, Vielhaber S, Gizatullina Z, Orynbayeva Z, Gellerich FN. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2015 May 29. pii: S0003-9861(15)00255-6. doi: 10.1016/

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Tel: +49 (0391) 67-15232
Fax: +49 (0391) 67-290297

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Last Modification: 01.03.2018 - Contact Person: Ögelin Düzel