Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl



The research of Ulrich Dirnagl is focused on stroke, cerebral blood flow regulation, and brain imaging. In preclinical models as well as clinical trials he and his coworkers and collaborators explore mechanisms by which brain ischemia leads to cell death, and develops novel methods to intercept mechanisms of damage in acute brain damage, as well as to foster regeneration and repair of the lesions.  He is particulary interested in how the brain protects itself (‘endogenous neuroprotection’), and how the brain interacts with other systems of the body after it has been injured. Closely linked to his interest in stroke pathophysiology is his interest in the coupling of regional blood flow to neuronal acitivity, the mechanism underlying functional brain imaging with MR and PET. Beyond imaging structure and function of the CNS he and his team are developing, validating and using techniques that allow the non-invasive imaging of brain biochemistry and molecular signaling. To this end they use optical, MR, and nuclear medicine approaches in mouse and man. To improve the predictiveness of preclinical translational research he is actively promoting the introduction of quality standards for experimental design and reporting, as well as international collaboration in large, phase III-type preclinical trials. Through meta-research he is trying to identify opportunities for improving research practice and to obtain evidence for the impact of targeted interventions. At the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin Ulrich Dirnagl serves as Director of the Department of Experimental Neurology. Since 2017 he is also the founding director of the QUEST Center for Transforming Biomedical Research at the Berlin Institute of Health. QUEST (Quality-Ethics- open Science – Translation) aims at overcoming the roadblocks in translational medicine by increasing the value and impact of biomedical research through maximizing the quality, reproducibility, generalizability, and validity of research. 

Curriculum vitae

Since 2017 Founding Director QUEST The Center for Transforming Biomedical Research, Berlin Institute of Health
Since 2017 Visting professor, University of Oxford, UK
2015 - 2017 Co-founder and coordinator (together with Craig Garner) of SPARK-Berlin (accelerating the translation of university-based inventions into clinical relevant drugs and diagnostics:
2013 - 2017 Clinical Coordinator, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE Berlin site)
since 2008 Co-founder and Director, Center for Stroke Research Berlin
since 2007 Member, Board of Directors, and Clinial Coordinator, NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence
2006 – 2008 Member, Steering Committee, “Berlin Center for Regenerative Therapies”
2005 – 2007 Coordinator (“Sprecher”), Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 507 “Role of non-neuronal cells in neurological disorders”, German Research Foundation (DFG)
2001 - 2016 Co-founder and Program Director, International Master-MD/PhD Program in Medical Neurosciences
since 2001 Co-Chairman, Department of Neurology, Charité (together with M. Endres)
since 1999 Deputy Director, Neuroscience Center, Charité
since 1999 Professor and Head, Department of Experimental Neurology, Charité
1995 – 1999 Heisenberg scholar, German Reserach Foundation (DFG)
1993 – 1999 Director, Division of Experimental Neurology, Charité, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
1993 Habilitation,Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU), Munich
1990 - 1993 Research assistant, Department of Neurology, LMU Munich
1988 – 1989 Postdoc (DAAD stipend), Department of Neuroscience, Cornell University Medical Center, N.Y.C, Chairman: Fred Plum, MD
1988 Doctoral degree (Dr. med.), summa cum laude, LMU Munich
1987 Medical degree (“Approbation”), LMU Munich

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Research fields

Physiology and pathophysiology of cerebral blood flow and metabolism
Cerebral ischemia and endogenous neuroprotection
Brain inflammation and brain-immune interaction
Interaction of brain and body after stroke (metabolism, gut microbiome, etc.)
Brain imaging (Optical, MR, nuclear medicine)
Quality control in experimental medicine
Meta-research (research on research)
Open science

Activities in the scientific community, honors, awards

2017 Münster Heart Center Lecture Award, Stiftung Herzzentrum Universitätsklinikum Münster
2016 Berliner Wissenschaftspreis (Awarded by the Mayor of Berlin)
2016 Thomas Willis Lecture Award, American Heart Association
since 2016 FAHA (Fellow of the American Heart Association)
since 2013 FESO (Fellow of the European Stroke Association)
2009 - 2017 Editor in Chief, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
2008 - 2015 Coordinator, Affording Recovery in Stroke (ARISE), 14 partner EU large-scale Cooperation FP7; Coordinator, European Stroke Network (with S. Meairs)
2008 Offer (declined), Directorship of the Howard Florey Neuroscience Institute in Melbourne, Australia
2007 - 2012 General Secretary, German Neuroscience Society
2006 - 2012 Member, Commission of the Senate of the German Research Foundation (DFG, Senats- u. Bewilligungsausschuss) on graduate programs
1999 – 2006 Deputy Chairman, Commission for Research Affairs, Humboldt University Medical School
1995 – 1999 Heisenberg fellowship, German Research Foundation (DFG) 1993 Gerhard Hess Prize, German Research Foundation (DFG)

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Selected publications (320 Pubmed listed, Google Scholar > 35000 citations, H index 93; Relative Citation Ratio (RCR): Max 57.50 Mean 2.61, Median 1.43)

Holman C, Piper SK, Grittner U, Diamantaras AA, Kmmelman J, Siegerink B, Dirnagl U (2016) Where Have All the Rodents Gone? The Effects of Attrition in Experimental Research on Cancer and Stroke. Plos Biol 4(1):e1002331

Begley CG, Buchan AM, Dirnagl U (2015). Robust research: Institutions must do their part for reproducibility. Nature 525:25-7. 

Llovera G, Hofmann K, Roth S, Salas-Pérdomo A, Ferrer-Ferrer M, Perego C, Zanier ER, Mamrak U, Rex A, Party H, Agin V, Fauchon C, Orset C, Haelewyn B, De Simoni MG, Dirnagl U, Grittner U, Planas AM, Plesnila N, Vivien D, Liesz A. (2015) Results of a preclinical randomized controlled multicenter trial (pRCT): Anti-CD49d treatment for acute brain ischemia. Sci Transl Med. 7:299ra121

Springer J, Schust S, Peske K, Tschirner A, Rex A, Engel O, Scherbakov N, Meisel A, von Haehling S, Boschmann M, Anker SD, Dirnagl U, Doehner W. (2014) Catabolic signaling and muscle wasting after acute ischemic stroke in mice: indication for a stroke-specific sarcopenia. Stroke.45:3675-83

Kimmelman J, Mogil JS, Dirnagl U (2014) Distinguishing between exploratory and confirmatory preclinical research will improve translation. Plos Biol PLoS Biol 12(5): e1001863.

Macleod MR, Michie S, Roberts I, Dirnagl U, Chalmers I, Ioannidis JP, Al-Shahi Salman R, Chan A and Glasziou P (2014) Biomedical research: Increasing value, reducing waste. Lancet. 383:101-4.

Dirnagl U, Endres M (2014) Found in translation - Preclinical stroke research predicts human pathophysiology, clinical phenotypes, and therapeutic outcomes. Stroke 2014; 45: 1510-1518

Dirnagl U, Hakim A, Macleod M, Fisher M, Howells D, Alan SM, Steinberg G, Planas A, Boltze J, Savitz S, Iadecola C, Meairs S. A (2013) Concerted Appeal for International Cooperation in Preclinical Stroke Research. Stroke. 44:1754-60.

Enzmann G, Mysiorek C, Gorina R, Cheng YJ, Ghavampour S, Hannocks MJ, Prinz V, Dirnagl U, Endres M, Prinz M, Beschorner R, Harter PN, Mittelbronn M, Engelhardt B, Sorokin L. (2013) The neurovascular unit as a selective barrier to polymorphonuclear granulocyte (PMN) infiltration into the brain after ischemic injury. Acta Neuropathol. 125(3):395-412

Failli V, Kopp MA, Gericke C, Martus P, Klingbeil S, Brommer B, Laginha I, Chen Y, DeVivo MJ, Dirnagl U, Schwab JM. (2012) Functional neurological recovery after spinal cord injury is impaired in patients with infections. Brain.135:3238-50.

Fernandez-Klett, F, Offenhauser, N, Dirnagl, U, Priller, J and Lindauer, U. Pericytes in capillaries are contractile in vivo, but arterioles mediate functional hyperemia in the mouse brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010; 107, 22290-5.

Dreier, JP, Major, S, Manning, A, Woitzik, J, Drenckhahn, C, Steinbrink, J, Tolias, C, Oliveira-Ferreira, AI, Fabricius, M, Hartings, JA, Vajkoczy, P, Lauritzen, M, Dirnagl, U, Bohner, G and Strong, AJ. Cortical spreading ischaemia is a novel process involved in ischaemic damage in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage. Brain. 2009; 132, 1866-81.

Harms, H, Prass, K, Meisel, C, Klehmet, J, Rogge, W, Drenckhahn, C, Gohler, J, Bereswill, S, Gobel, U, Wernecke, KD, Wolf, T, Arnold, G, Halle, E, Volk, HD, Dirnagl, U and Meisel, A. Preventive antibacterial therapy in acute ischemic stroke: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2008; 3, e2158.

Dirnagl U. Bench to bedside: the quest for quality in experimental stroke research. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2006 Dec;26(12):1465-78.

Ruscher, K, Freyer, D, Karsch, M, Isaev, N, Megow, D, Sawitzki, B, Priller, J, Dirnagl, U and Meisel,A. Erythropoietin is a paracrine mediator of ischemic tolerance in the brain: evidence from an in vitro model. J Neurosci. 2002; 22, 10291-301.

Priller, J, Flugel, A, Wehner, T, Boentert, M, Haas, CA, Prinz, M, Fernandez-Klett, F, Prass, K, Bechmann, I, de Boer, BA, Frotscher, M, Kreutzberg, GW, Persons, DA and Dirnagl, U. Targeting gene-modified hematopoietic cells to the central nervous system: use of green fluorescent protein uncovers microglial engraftment. Nat Med. 2001; 7, 1356-61.

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Full set of other publications



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Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl

CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
Center for Stroke Research
Departments of Neurology and Experimental Neurology
Charitéplatz 1 | D-10117 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)30 450-560134
E-Mail: Ulrich Dirnagl
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