Interview with Professor Gerd Kempermann

Professor Gerd Kempermann (CRTD, Germany) will be returning to chair the fourth conference in the Adult Neurogenesis meeting series in Dresden on May 5-8, 2015.

We recently caught up with him to hear about his research and get his thoughts on this upcoming meeting.

About the Chairman

Gerd kempermann for Adult Neurogenesis meeting

Gerd Kempermann is professor for Genomics of Regeneration at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Dresden and the Center for Regenerative Therapies in Dresden (CRTD) at Technische Universität Dresden.

After his doctorate at the University of Freiburg, he worked until 1995 in the Department of Clinical Neuropathology at  University Medical Center Freiburg. As a postdoc he went to the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Californa, where he conducted research in the laboratory of Professor Fred H. Gage until 1998. From 1998 to 2000 he worked as clinical neurologist at the University of Regensburg.

In 2000 he moved as a research group leader to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch. In addition he headed the Volkswagenstiftung Research Group at the Dept. of Experimental Neurology, Charité University Medicine. Gerd Kempermann had his habilitation in 2002 in experimental neurology.

In  2004 he was a Senior Fellow of the international Max Plank Research Network on Aging (MaxnetAging). He moved to the CRTD in 2007 and is Speaker of the DZNE in Dresden since 2009.

Briefly tell us about your current research interests?

My group is interested in the gene x environment interactions that control adult hippocampal neurogenesis: how behavior influence the generation of adult neurogenesis and what the genetic determinants are.

Can you recommend recent ‘not to miss’ articles or reviews that you have read?

"Recent" is relative, but in some sense my favorite paper this year has been "Wheel running in the wild" by JH Meijer and Y Robbers (Proc Biol Sci 281, 2014, 1786). The study asked whether wild mice would actually use a running wheel as we present our laboratory mice. So they placed a running wheel with a monitoring device in a park and waited. And indeed, the mice came and ran. This is good news for researchers using running wheels for their research, as we do to investigate exercise-effects on adult neurogenesis: wheel running is a normal behavior.

What is your vision for the 2015 Adult Neurogenesis meeting?

In the 2015 meeting we want to bring together a broad range of researchers interested in adult neurogenesis and promote interdisciplinary perspectives. Besides the central topics of our field, regulation and function, we will place emphasis on evolutionary considerations.

Are there any key questions/problems of the field that you want addressed in this meeting?

Yes, of course. I think we need to understand why adult neurogenesis has been advantageous. To produce new neurons is a complex and costly process that must offer some benefits that justify this effort. To answer this big question, an interdisciplinary take on the subject is necessary.

Looking back, what were the most important turning points in your career?

The decision to leave clinical medicine and become a full-time researcher.

Any words of wisdom for young researchers just starting their scientific career?

If you are not excited about what you are doing, it is unlikely that somebody else will be.