Neuroimmunology in Health and Disease

Identifying brain function has primarily concentrated on how environmental signals are encoded within a complex neuronal network—the impact of the immune system was mostly overseen. The Siegert group focuses on how neurons and microglia interact with each other and how malfunctions within this relationship impact neuronal circuit formation and function in health and disease.

Microglia are the CNS-resident macrophages and continually sense their neuronal environment. They switch between functional states that either promote or counteract removal of circuit elements. But how microglia decide when to alter circuit elements without inducing circuit malfunction is not known. Activated microglia are a feature of CNS pathologies such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, it is important to study the contribution of these cells and to develop strategies for manipulating them in a beneficial manner.

The Siegert lab addresses this using the mammalian retina, which consists of morphologically well-defined cell types that are precisely mapped in their connection and functional properties. They combine molecular biology, virology, genomics, computational, and functional imaging as well as iPS technology to translate their observations to a human-relevant perspective.

For up-to-date information about the group, please visit the Siegert group website.

For up-to-date information about the group leader, please visit the Orcid account or Siegert Group website.

Sandra Siegert
Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)
Am Campus 1
A-3400 Klosterneuburg

Phone: +43-(0)2243 9000-3050

Rita Six

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-1165

Siegert Group website

Open Positions in Siegert Group
Siegert Group website

Current Projects

  • Defining microglial activation
  • Identifying strategies to manage microglia in neuronal environment
  • Recapitulating microglia-neuron interaction in a human model system

Selected Publications

  • Siegert S, Gross Scherf B, Del Punta K, Didkovsky N, Heintz N, Roska B, “Genetic address book for retinal cell types” , Nature Neuroscience 2009 Sep; 12(9): 1197-204, Nature neuroscience cover story
  • Siegert S, Cabuy E, Gross Scherf B, Kohler H, Panda S, Le, Y-Z, Fehling HJ, Gaidatzis D, Stadler M, Roska B, “Transcription factor code and disease map for retinal cell types”, Nature Neuroscience 2012 Jan; 15(3): 487-95
  • Siegert S, Seo J, Kwon EJ, Rudenko A, Cho S, Wang W, Flood Z, Martorell AJ, Ericsson M, Mungenast AE, Tsai L-H, “The schizophrenia risk gene miR-137 alters presynaptic plasticity”, Nature Neuroscience 2015 Jul; 18(7): 1008-16.

A full list can be found here Siegert Group website.


Since 2015 Assistant Professor, IST Austria, Klosterneuburg, Austria
2011 - 2015 Postdoctoral associate, MIT, The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Cambridge/MA, USA (with Li-Huei Tsai)
2005 - 2010 PhD student, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland (with Botond Roska)
2004 – 2005 Diplom student, Paul-Ehrlich Institute, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, Langen, Germany (with Barbara Schierle)
2000 – 2005 Undergraduate in Biology (main focus: microbiology, biochemistry, neurobiology), Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Selected Distinctions

2017    Liese Prokop Award
2016    ERC Starting Grant
2013    SWISS OphthAWARD
2012    Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) long-term fellowship
2011    Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), long-term fellowship
2011    Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Fellowship for prospective researchers

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