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Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl

Group Leader

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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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. 

Additional information

ORCID ID:  Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl

Awards and honors:

  • Elected member, Academia Europaea (2018)
  • Münster Heart Lecture Award (2017)
  • Berliner Wissenschaftspreis des Regierenden Bürgermeisters (2016)
  • Thomas Willis Lecture Award 2016, American Heart Association
  • Lifetime Honorary member, Australasian Stroke Society (2013)
  • Heisenberg Fellowship 1995 (German Research Council, DFG)
  • Gerhardt Hess Prize 1993 (German Research Council, DFG)

Selected publications

(382 Pubmed listed, Google Scholar: Citations: 40000, h-index 97, Relative Citation Ratio (NIH) (RCR mean 2.60; RCR median 1.41; RCR range 0-62, Weighted RCR 743)

  • 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. Full set of other publications
  • Yarborough M, Bredenoord A, D'Abramo F, Joyce NC, Kimmelman J, Ogbogu U, Sena E, Strech D, Dirnagl U. The bench is closer to the bedside than we think: Uncovering the ethical ties between preclinical researchers in translational neuroscience and patients in clinical trials. PLoS Biol. 2018 Jun 6;16(6):e2006343.
  • Yarborough M, Dirnagl U. Preclinical research: Meet patients to sharpen up research. Nature. 2017 Nov 16;551(7680):300
  • Emmrich JV, Neher JJ, Boehm-Sturm P, Endres M, Dirnagl U, Harms C. Stage 1 Registered Report: Effect of deficient phagocytosis on neuronal survival and neurological outcome after temporary middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAo). Version 2. F1000Res. 2017 Oct 12 [revised 2017 Jan 1];6:1827.
  • Prüss H, Tedeschi A, Thiriot A, Lynch L, Loughhead SM, Stutte S, Mazo IB, Kopp MA, Brommer B, Blex C, Geurtz LC, Liebscher T, Niedeggen A, Dirnagl U, Bradke F, Volz MS, DeVivo MJ, Chen Y, von Andrian UH, Schwab JM. Spinal cord injury-induced immunodeficiency is mediated by a sympathetic-neuroendocrine adrenal reflex. Nat Neurosci. 2017 Nov;20(11):1549-1559.
  • Neumann K, Grittner U, Piper S, Rex A, Florez-Vargas O, Karystianis G, Schneider A, Wellwood I, Siegerink B, Ioannidis JPA, Kimmelman J, Dirnagl U (2017) Increasing efficiency of preclinical research by group sequential designs. Plos Biol 15(3):e2001307
  • Dirnagl U, Przesdzing I, Kurreck C, Major S. (2016) A laboratory critical incident and error reporting system for experimental biomedicine. Plos Biol 14: e2000705
  • Dirnagl U (2016) Thomas Willis Lecture: Is translational stroke research broken, and if so, how can we fix it? Stroke 47:2148-53

Publications (Medline, external)


Vita Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl

Since 2018  Member, Academic Steering Committee, Oxford – Berlin Collaboration

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


Functions / offices

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