As Senior Professor, Karl Zilles Researches the Human Brain


RWTH Aachen professors can continue to support scientific research after they retire. Zilles analyses processes in diseases such Parkinson's or dementia.


The internationally renowned neuroscientist and doctor Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. Karl Zilles is assuming a JARA seinor professorship. This honor is given to individuals if they have provided outstanding services for the development of JARA, the Jülich-Aachen Research Alliance, after they have left active employment and service.

This enables University professors to continue their research at both RWTH Aachen and Forschungszentrum Jülich after their retirement. The JARA senior professorships also promote the exchange of knowledge and collaboration between experienced and young scientists.

Karl Zilles has worked with Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Katrin Amunts for many years on a three dimensional model of the human brain that is based on thousands of microscopic tissue sections.

His research focus is the analysis of the molecular foundation of signal transmission in the various structural and functional organizational units of the human brain, and in the brains of transgenic animals, that serve as models of mental and neurological diseases. The tissue samples are analyzed with the help of modern image evaluation methods. Afterwards, the differing expression – that is the individual distribution profile for brain regions of more than 20 different receptors for signal transfer molecules - is transferred into the functional and structural correlation. The knowledge gained contributes to better understanding the processes in a healthy and sick brain – such as in Parkinson's, dimentia, or schizophrenia. Throguh his JARA senior professorship, Zilles will conduct research at the Aachen University Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics and at Forschungszentrum Jülich.

The scientist was first director of the Insitute of Medicine from 1998 to 2002, and then director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at Forschungszentrum Jülich till the end of 2012. Simultaneously he was head of the C.& O. Vogt Institute for Brain Research at the University of Düsseldorf. Since August 2007, Zilles has intensified his collaboration with the Aachen University Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics within the framework of the newly founded brain research association JARA-BRAIN. The successful collaboration will be continued through the JARA senior professorship.

Ilse Trautwein