BIOGRAPHY

Research Group Leader
Attending Neurologist
Department of Neurology
University Hospital Münster
Münster | Germany
medizin.uni-muenster.de/en/mzhlab

I am a clinical neurologist with subspecialty training in clinical neuroimmunology and expertise in functional and cellular immunology and single cell technologies.

My overall scientific interest is to understand which lymphocytes populate the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system border – especially in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). My initial training was in the field of hereditary neuropathies. Subsequently, I studied how glia cells interact with T lymphocytes in animal models of human neuroinflammatory diseases and how this can facilitate experimental treatments.

In a related line of research, I am especially interested in immune-related functions of central nervous system (CNS)-associated border compartments: dura and CSF. During my postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, I identified two novel mechanisms controlling the pathogenicity of pro-inflammatory T helper cell subsets in rodents.

My research group at the Department of Neurology at the Westfälsiche WIlhelms-University Münster, Germany thus brings together clinical neuroimmunology practice with translational and computational neuroimmunology. I specifically focus on how inflammation in the meninges and CSF and CNS parenchyma are coupled. For instance, my group surprisingly identified abundant B cells and B cell progenitors in the dura layer of the meninges (Schafflick et al in press). This immediately relates to my interest in applying new technology to CSF. We were among the first reporting single cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) of human CSF leukocytes in comparison to peripheral blood and in controls compared to patients with multiple sclerosis. We recently used this approach to identify mechanisms driving neurological manifestations of COVID-19 in the CSF.

My work thus combines basic and clinical neuroimmunology with novel technologies.