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Centre for Neurosensory Systems



Centre for Neurosensory Systems

Due to the increased life expectancy neurosensory diseases have increased significantly in the last decade, particularly in the industrialized countries.

Currently 80 million Europeans suffer from these diseases, every second German develops a visual or hearing impairment in the course of his life. The reasons for the increase of this disease spectrum are complex. In addition to personal living habits, genetic factors that have largely been unknown to date contribute significantly to this disease spectrum.

While significant improvements in diagnosis and therapy have been achieved in individual neurosensory disorders over the last ten years, there is an acute need for research and development in other, sometimes very frequent, diseases.


The Centre for Neurosensory Systems was founded in 2011 as an institution of the Medical Faculty and the University Hospitals, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen. With an emphasis on vision and hearing, the centre aims at investigating molecular physiological and pathophysiological processes of neurosensory systems. Based on an in-depth understanding of pathophysiological processes, new translational strategies for risk assessment, early diagnosis and prevention of neurosensory diseases are being developed.


The Centre for Neurosensory Systems is one of the institutions within the Neurosciences Campus, a core area of the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen, comprising nine institutes in the area of computational neuroscience, integrative neuroscience, brain research and neurosensory research together with a large graduate program.

The Centre is constituted by
  • The University Eye Hospital,
    Director: Prof. Dr. Karl-Ulrich Bartz-Schmidt
  • The Institute for Ophthalmic Research,
    Director: Prof. Dr. Marius Ueffing
  • The University Department for Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery,
    Director: Prof. Dr. Hubert Löwenheim,
  • The Centre for Hearing Research,
    Head: Prof. Dr. Marlies Knipper
Centre Management
Dr. Thomas Wheeler-Schilling (CEO)


The Centre’s Board is made up of the four Heads of these institutions who elect the Centre’s Speaker for a term of four years. The present Speaker (second term) is Prof. Dr. Eberhart Zrenner, former Executive Director of the University Eye Hospital and founding Director of the Institute for Ophthalmic Research. The Board defines the general strategy, the implementation of its aims in research and teaching and special patient care, organising its activities through its central office.


Presently, there are approximately 220 people working at the University Eye Hospital (76 beds, 6,100 in-patients, 47,600 out-patients p.a.) and approximately 110 working at the Institute for Ophthalmic Research.


At the Department of Otolaryngology (64 beds, 5,400 in-patients, 41,000 out-patients p.a.) 220 people and at the Centre for Hearing Research 25 full-time plus 40 half-time researchers and technicians are employed.

There are special out-patient clinics for patients with multiple sensory disorders who are cared for by an interdisciplinary team and there are several interdisciplinary Special Interest Research Groups in special research areas with regular meetings.


Eleven full professors appointed for lifetime are mentoring groups working in the following areas:

  • Prof. Dr. Karl Ulrich Bartz-Schmidt
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Euler
    Neurophysiology of the Retina
  • Prof. Dr. Anthony W. Gummer
    Physiological Acoustics and Communication
  • Prof. Dr. Marlies Knipper
    Molecular Physiology of Hearing
  • Prof. Dr. Hubert Löwenheim
    Regenerative Medicine/Otolaryngology
  • Prof. Dr. Frank Schaeffel
    Myopia Research 
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schraermeyer
    Vitreoretinal Research
  • Prof. Dr. Mathias Seeliger
    Neurodegenerations of the Eye
  • Prof. Dr. Marius Ueffing
    Molecular Biology of Degenerative Retinal Diseases
  • Prof. Dr. Bernd Wissinger
    Molecular Genetics
  • Prof. Dr. Eberhart Zrenner
    Pathophysiology of Vision
    (Senior Professorship) 


Complemented by a number of Junior and Senior Research Groups:

  • PD. Dr. Philipp Berens
    Neural Data Science for Vision Research
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Bende
    Foundation for Basic Research in Ophthalmology
  • Dr. Ernst Dalhoff
    Cochlear Implantology
  • Prof. Dr. Dominik Fischer
    Translational Research on Retinal Disorders
  • Dr. Katrin Franke
    Junior Research Group Bernstein Centre
  • Prof. Dr. Francois Paquet-Durand
    Cell Death Mechanisms
  • Dr. Thomas Münch
    Retinal Circuits and Optogenetics
  • PD. Dr. Lukas Rüttiger
    Physiology of Hearing
  • Dr. Sven Schnichels
    Neuroprotection & Drug Delivery
  • Dr. Christina Schwarz
    Junior Research Group Adaptive Optics
  • Prof. Dr. Siegfried Wahl
    ZEISS Industry on Campus Professorship


The Centre for Neurosensory Systems appoints several cooperating associated members inside and outside of the University of Tübingen:

  • Prof. Dr. M. Bethge,
    Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tuebingen
  • Prof. Dr. H Breer,
    Physiology University Hohenheim, Stuttgart
  • Prof. Dr. R Feil,
    Interfaculty Institute of Biochemistry, Tuebingen
  • Prof. Dr. B. Hirt,
    Institute for clinical Anatomy, Tuebingen
  • Prof. Dr. A Huber,
    Biosensorik, University Hohenheim, Stuttgart
  • Prof. Dr. S. Liebau,
    Institute für Neuroanatomy, Tuebingen
  • Prof. Dr. P. Ruth,
    Department of Pharmacology Tuebingen
  • Prof. Dr. U. Ziemann,
    Neurology Tuebingen  


Special attention is given to the education of clinical scientists who closely collaborate with the basic scientists. The scientist-clinicians come from many countries; English is the official language in the research area. More than 50 clinical and basic scientists attend the weekly progress report program - the scientific education program linked to the Graduate Training Centre of Neuroscience with lecture series on Sensory Systems, complemented by Advanced Education Programs such as the Summer School and the “Vision Camp”. 

Interdisciplinary collaboration with the
  • University Eye Hospital
  • Institute for Ophthalmic Research
  • University Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
  • Laboratories of the University Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
  • Interfaculty Institute for Biochemisty
  • Department for Anatomy
  • Centre for Rare Diseases
  • Institute for Physiology
  • Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • University of Hohenheim



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