Dr. Daniel Wehner

Our research addresses the question: why are some vertebrates able to regenerate their spinal cord after injury? In mammals, including humans, spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to permanent paralysis because the severed axons do not regrow across the lesion site. In contrast, zebrafish exhibit robust axonal regrowth even after complete transection of the spinal cord, leading to substantial recovery of locomotor function. This offers a vertebrate model to study the parameters required to enable axonal regrowth after SCI.

Specifically, we focus on elucidating the composition, regulation and mechanical properties of the non-neural lesion environment, which in contrast to mammals, is permissive to axonal growth in zebrafish. To this end we are using a broad range of state-of-the-art optical imaging technologies, genetic and molecular biology tools. Our long-term goal is to provide clues on how severed axonal connections can be functionally repaired in the human spinal cord.

For more information please have a look at our group page.

Daniel Wehner’s research interest is to unravel the mechanisms underlying successful organ regeneration in vertebrates. His goal is to inform research in non-regenerating systems. Daniel Wehner studied Bio- and Nanotechnologies at the South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences (Iserlohn, Germany). In parallel, he completed an intercalated BSc Honours degree in Medical Biotechnology at the Abertay Dundee (Dundee, United Kingdom). Following his undergraduate studies, Daniel Wehner carried out doctoral research in the laboratory of Prof. Gilbert Weidinger at the Technische University Dresden and Ulm University (Dresden / Ulm, Germany), where he studied mechanisms of tissue regeneration using the zebrafish fin as a model system. After completing his doctorate, Daniel Wehner conducted postdoctoral research in the laboratories of Prof. Catherina G. Becker at the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) and Prof. Michael Brand at the Technische Universität Dresden (Dresden, Germany), focussing on mechanisms of successful spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish. Since November 2018, Daniel Wehner has been leading the junior research group ‘Neuroregeneration’ at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light and the Max-Planck-Zentrum für Physik und Medizin (Erlangen, Germany). His current research focusses on elucidating the principles that can lead to functional axonal regeneration in a complex vertebrate central nervous system, with emphasis on the regeneration-permissive microenvironment.

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