Robert Ohlendorf

Molecular Signaling

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
Adjunct faculty in: IMPRS


  • PhD, Biophysics, Humboldt-University Berlin (2016)
  • Postdoc, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2016-2023)
  • Max Planck Research Group Leader, MPI for Biological Cybernetics (since 2023)

Research Interest

Our brains consist of 170 billion cells of various types that form complex networks of nerve fibers, blood vessels and glia. These cells communicate with each other through signaling molecules such as neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and hormones to process information about the environment, store memories, and maintain healthy brain function. We develop and apply methods to study these signaling processes in real-time and study their interplay on a brain-wide level. To that end, we use synthetic biology and protein engineering to develop strategies for measuring and controlling biological processes. On one hand, we engineer optogenetic actuators to precisely manipulate biomolecules and their functions via light, which allows us to understand the importance of single molecules in biological functions. On the other hand, we build biological sensors that read out and visualize molecular signals on a brain-wide scale using state-of-the-art optical, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. Both approaches complement each other to learn about fundamental molecular aspects of mammalian brain function in model organisms and deduce implications for healthy and pathological states of the human brain.

Available PhD Projects

Selected Publications

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