Ali Erturk

Dr. Ali Erturk, Director

Dear visitors, I obtained my undergraduate degree from the Bilkent University in Ankara in 2003, then moved to Munich for my Ph.D. I worked at the Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, focusing on axon regeneration in the injured spinal cord by developing and using in vivo imaging and tissue clearing methods. In 2009, I moved to Genentech in S. San Francisco for my postdoc, where I worked on non-apoptotic caspase-3 actions in spine degeneration, traumatic brain injury and whole brain tissue clearing to assess neurodegeneration. Besides chasing breakthrough science with my amazing team, I enjoy sports, photography, reading and cooking (Photo credit: Christiane Kappes). 


Rami Al-Maskari, Ph.D. Candidate

I am from Munich, did my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Information Systems at the TUM. For my Master’s thesis on segmenting the peripheral nervous system of mice I got in touch with the Ertürk Lab.  The work on the thesis convinced me to pursue my Ph.D. here, together with Bjoern Menze’s Image-Based Biomedical Modeling Group. In my spare time I like to do Muay Thai, photography and reading.



Dr. Harsharan S. Bhatia, Postdoc

I received my Bachelor’s in Biology from Punjabi University, India and my Master’s in Biotechnology from Dehradun University. Afterwards I moved to Freiburg, Germany to undertake a PhD at Albert-Ludwigs University. Here I studied the role of antioxidants in regulating microglia driven inflammation in vitro. Since completing my PhD I’ve worked as a Postdoc at UCLA, California, studying how dietary manipulations during gestation affects synaptic plasticity, and behaviour. Then back to Freiburg where I was a Research Associate at University Clinic examining how epigenetic factors regulate microglial function in chronic neuroinflammation. I joined the Erturk lab as a Postdoc in 2017 to elucidate underlying molecular mechanisms in chronic neuroinflammation associated neurodegeneration. I love Cricket, cooking Indian cuisine and Bollywood songs.


Karen Biniossek, Team Assistant

Hi, my name is Karen. After qualifying in the early 90’s in the UK (London) as an Anaesthetist I decided to use my skills in Saudi Arabia. After meeting my husband and travelling all over the world I settled eventually in Munich in 2001 where I live with my two children and husband. In 2010 I returned back to work at Helmholtz which was a very interesting return into Medicine with science. Since mid 2019 I am lucky to have joined a wonderful new enthusiastic and dynamic team such as iTERM.


Marin Bralo

Marin Bralo, Technical Assistant

I was born in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I attended elementary and high school. I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Biology and Chemistry from University of Split in Croatia. In my Master’s thesis the biochemical study was performed on the first module of tyrocidine synthetase, tyrocidine synthetase 1 (TycA), after three single point TycA protein variants were constructed. Tyrocidine synthetase belongs to the group of nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) and the product of its activity is antibiotic tyrocidine. I also worked as a biology and chemistry teacher. Besides doing and teaching science I enjoy hiking, weightlifting, good music, movies and meeting new people.


Dr. Suheda Erener, Science Manager

I obtained my Master`s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Heidelberg, completing my thesis work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratories (EMBL). Thereafter, I moved to Switzerland to pursue my doctoral studies at the University of Zurich working on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of inflammation in conditions such as sepsis and metabolic syndrome. I continued my academic career as a post-doc and then as a Research Associate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, to develop cell therapies and biomarkers for diabetes while collaborating with the pharmaceutical industry and clinicians. I returned to Europe to work as a project team leader at the Helmholtz Research Centre in Munich. I recently became more interested in the managerial side of science and joined iTERM as a Scientific Manager. Besides research, I enjoy running, mountain biking, skiing as well as cooking for friends and family.


Dr. Farida Hellal, Postdoc

I studied Biochemistry in Paris at Pierre & Marie Curie University, where I received a master’s degree in Neurosciences. I completed an industrial Ph.D. in Pharmacology on drug development for traumatic brain injury. Then as a postdoc, I joined the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology Munich and DZNE in Bonn, where I uncovered the relevance of manipulating cytoskeleton to promote axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury and contributed with Ali Ertürk to the development of tissue clearing and imaging by light-sheet microscopy. I moved to the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research to investigate neuronal network remodeling after stroke. I am fond of not only Science but also Social Anthropology, philosophizing on the meaning of life over a glass of wine and French cooking & baking for others.

Izabela Horvath, Ph.D. Candidate

I was born and raised in Romania. I got my Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Politehnica University of Timisoara, then I spent one year at CERN doing hardware tests to study superconducting wires. Later on, my interests led me to pursue a Master’s degree in Biomedical Computing at TUM, where I enjoyed focusing on medical imaging technologies and machine learning. For my Master Thesis, I worked on the topic of Machine learning-based reconstruction for MR Fingerprinting. Before joining Erturk Lab, I spent 6 months in Tokyo using deep learning for the study of typhoons, and now I am back in Munich, looking forward to pursue a PhD here, in cooperation with prof. Bjoern Menze’s Chair for Image-Based Biomedical Modeling (IBBM). I like to unwind doing activities related to plants, traveling, animals and sports.


Doris Kaltenecker

Dr. Doris Kaltenecker, Postdoc

I am from Vienna. For my BSc and MSc degree I studied Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Applied Sciences. Afterwards, I did my PhD at the Medical University of Vienna. During that time, I worked at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research, where I focused on the role of JAK-STAT signaling in adipose tissue and how it influences whole body energy metabolism. I moved to Munich to pursue a Postdoc at the Institute for Diabetes and Cancer (Helmholtz Zentrum München), where I am working on a co-project with the Ertürk Lab. Apart from science, I really enjoy going to concerts, travelling and watching good movies. 


Ilgin Kolabas

Ilgin Kolabas, Ph.D. Candidate

I am from Istanbul, where I got my bachelors degree in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering with a minor in Psychology from Sabanci University. Before graduating, I went to Hong Kong for an exchange semester, which I still consider as one of the best decisions of my life. Following this adventurous period, I got my masters on Cognitive Neuroscience at the Donders Institute in Radboud University, The Netherlands, and graduated with a minor in Neurophilosophy. I completed my thesis studies in Erturk lab studying the effects of chronic inflammation after stroke. I enjoyed the work so much that I accepted a PhD position here in the Graduate School of Neurosciences (GSN). I am passionate about learning about life and the brain as well as travelling, reading and doing yoga.


Louis Kümmerle, Ph.D. Candidate

I grew up in a small village close to Heilbronn, Germany. I obtained a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and a B.Sc. in Physics from University of Würzburg. Afterwards I moved to Tübingen, Germany, to obtain a M.Sc. in Neural Information Processing at the Graduate Training Center for Neuroscience. In January 2020 I started my Ph.D. in the Ertürk Lab and Theis Lab. My work focuses on developing and applying machine learning methods on single cell transcriptomics and spatial transcriptomics. In my spare time I like playing the guitar and doing sports like running and badminton.


Hongcheng Mai, Ph.D. Candidate

Hello, I am Hongcheng Mai, and I grew up in the southern part of China. Before I joined Ali’s group as a Ph.D. student, I have spent 8 years for a medical study at Jinan University. My passion in the lab is developing technologies for human tissue clearing, also clarifying the mechanism of ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury. Besides science, I like swimming and basketball.


Muge Molbay

Muge Molbay Ph.D. Candidate

Originally from Turkey, I obtained my Bachelor’s degree from Izmir Institute of Technology on Molecular Biology and Genetics and my Master degree from Akdeniz University, Medical School, Histology and Embryology Department, focused on the effects of human trophoblast progenitor cell treatment on angiogenesis and neurogenesis after focal cerebral ischaemia. I joined the group of Ali Ertürk at the ISD labs in 2018 as a PhD student. Here, I work on the the combining cutting-edge technologies; DISCO clearing and DNA Origami nanotechnology for deliveries through blood-brain barrier into central nervous system. In addition to my passion on science, I enjoy football and basketball games, going to concerts and oil-painting.


Dr. Tzu-Lun Ohn, Postdoc

I got my bachelor’s degree as a biologist at National Taiwan University and did my Ph.D. research in synaptic neuroscience at University of Göttingen in Germany. During my Ph.D. studies, I had a task to build up a spinning disk imaging system to record calcium dynamics in sub-kHz rate. I was thereby fascinated by microscopy and optics, so I shifted my field from neuroscience to optics. I have worked at Research Center Caesar in Bonn, Germany, and the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, to establish a mesoscopic two-photon microscopy system and adaptive optics for countering scattering in deep-tissue imaging. I am now working in Ertürk’s lab to improve imaging technology for research in biology and neuroscience. Besides that, my hobbies are assembling things such as bicycles, kitchens, audio systems, computers, and beverage mixing (mixology) such as cocktail, coffee or bubble tea.


Furkan Ozturk, Ph.D. Candidate

Hi, I am a mechanical engineer originating from Istanbul Technical University. I enjoy understanding how things are connected to each other and how they work. I was interested in many branches of engineering and developed a versatile skill-set. Visiting Sabanci University Nanotechnology Research and Application Center for a year, I have developed a direct write stereolithography system to generate 3D microstructures on a wafer. Later on I got my Master’s Degree on medical technology engineering at Technical University Munich and developed an additive manufacturing solution for liquid aluminum jetting during my studies. Before joining this amazing team I was working at iThera Medical as a mechanical design engineer. Now I am working towards my PhD and looking forward to the hard times of it everyone warned me about.


Johannes Paetzold

Johannes Paetzold, Ph.D. Candidate

Hi, I am currently completing my Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (TUM) in collaboration with the Ertürk Lab and Bjoern Menze’s Chair for Image-Based Biomedical Modeling (IBBM). My research and interest surround Deep Learning and Computer Vision and their application to medical and biological data analysis. I obtained a B.Sc. degree in Engineering Science from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Besides, I studied in India at the IIT Bombay and currently pursue a degree in Politics & Technology part-time. Previously I gained research experience in a very different field, together with Jia Chen (TUM) and Steven Wofsy (Harvard) I worked on satellite based remote sensing and data analysis.


Chenchen Pan

Dr. Chenchen Pan, Postdoc

I was born in China and came to Munich in 2014 for my PhD study. I developed u/vDISCO and DeepMACT pipelines with colleagues and achieved the PhD degree in 2019. As a postdoc researcher, my current focus is to systematically evaluate the targeting efficacy of various novel cancer therapies, e.g. antibodies, CAR-T cells. Besides scientific research, my interests are good movies, music, traveling and reading.


Zhouyi Rong

Zhouyi Rong, PhD Candidate

I was born and raised in Hubei province of China. I graduated from Wuhan University with a major in Life Science and Biotechnology, and obtained my Master’s degree from Xiamen University, where I focused on the role of TREM2 mediated microglial function in Alzheimer’s Disease. I started my PhD studies at LMU in October, 2018. In my spare time I Iike playing volleyball, cycling and travelling. And I really enjoy good music and movies.​


Oliver Schopp

Oliver Schoppe, Group Leader: Artificial Intelligence

I was born and raised in a small town south of Munich and have decided to stay in Munich ever since. I obtained a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology from TUM. In a junior year abroad at Harvard/MIT and two research stays at Oxford I gained in-depth experience in neuroscience and machine learning approaches to information processing. After working as a business consultant for a few years I started my PhD in 2018 with Bjoern Menze’s Image-Based Biomedical Modeling Group, for which I work together with the iTERM in order to apply deep learning approaches to 3D microscopy data. In this collaboration, I lead the Artificial Intelligence group of the institute. I truly enjoy going snowboarding in the alps, travelling the world, and cooking, especially if I get to try out new and exotic recipes. For more details on my work, please also see here.


Mihail Todorov

Mihail Todorov, Ph.D. Candidate

I was born in Bulgaria and I grew up in Hungary. I obtained my Bachelor and Master degree as a Biologist (specialisation in Neuroscience and Human Biology) from the Eotvos Lorand University. My research focus was in vivo rodent visual and in vitro electrophysiological measurments, single-cell PCR, patch-clamp and batch data analysis using several scripting languages. Now I’m doing my PhD studies in Munich. My interests are: travelling, electronics, and hiking.


Ana Marija Toman

Ana Toman Fabjan, Team Assistant

Hi, my name is Ana. In summer 2018, after many years of working in the media industry, I took the plunge into the scientific community and joined the Ertürk lab as Team Assistant. I grew up in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I also graduated in translation studies. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family. I am also an aspiring minimalist and an avid reader.


Alison Wright

Dr. Alison Wright, Postdoc

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the iTERM lab working on establishing a high-throughput drug screening pipeline using organoids. I did my bachelor’s in Human Anatomy, Physiology and Psychology at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane Australia. In 2019 I graduated my PhD from Griffith University, Australia with my thesis focusing on the interactions between glia and immune cells in the olfactory region. My background is in neuroimmune interactions for treatment of spinal cord injury. I’m also interested in space biology and so spend my free time reading about the effects of microgravity on glia.



Shan Zhao, Ph.D. Candidate

I was born and grew up in China. I got my Bachelor in Pharmaceutical Engineering & Technology and my Master in Applied Chemistry from Beijing Institute of Technology. Then, I worked in Tsinghua University and Peking University to study Tissue Engineering and Bioactive Small Molecules, respectively. I started my PhD study in e-lab since Feb. 2017. In my spare time, I like traveling, painting and doing some sports, like swimming, running, badminton. 




Lamia’a Bahnassawy 

Francesca Paola Quacquarelli 

Rupinder Kaur 

Karen Stanic

Benjamin Förstera

Ph.D. Students: 

Marika Ruiyao Cai

Master’s Students:

Leander Mrowka

Christoph Dehner

Madita Reimer


Ilgin Kolabas