Mission Statement

The aim of the Research Department of Neuroscience (RDN) is the development and reinforcement of a unique and interdisciplinary scientific landscape within Ruhr University Bochum and its immediate environment, that pivots upon the established strengths of the RUB as an outstanding center for systems neuroscience research.

  • Promoting excellence and collaborations in Neuroscience
  • Fostering the next generation of neuroscientists

The strength of the Department is its highly interdisciplinary orientation, which integrates the expertise and research tradition of six faculties (Biology and Biotechnology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Medicine, Psychology and Sport Science), together with three institutions (the Institute of Computational Neuroscience, the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the International Graduate School of Neuroscience (IGSN)) as well as the University Clinics.

Around 500 neuroscientists, from BSc students to professors, work together on the campus and in the affiliated clinics on neuroscience and cognitive science topics. The RDN offers an outstanding, integrative research platform that encompasses the molecular, cellular, systemic, cognitive and clinical neurosciences as well as computational brain sciences, and has thereby established a multidisciplinary strategy for the investigation of brain functions.

Research at the RDN focuses on four main areas:

  • Cognition
  • Learning and Memory
  • Brain Pathology
  • Applied Neuroscience
Research Structure

The RDN has adopted a neuroscience strategy that combines basic research with clinical approaches and extends to the level of computational modeling of brain function. Researchers of the RDN are particularly interested in the mechanisms of sensory perception, learning and memory and cognition, but also in the mechanisms and therapies of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s chorea, and schizophrenia.

As the umbrella for interdisciplinary and neuroscientific research at Ruhr University, the RDN focuses on three areas in particular to provide and develop an excellent, competitive and international research environment.

The aim of the RDN is to further strengthen the existing excellent neuroscientific research and to ensure state-of-the-art equipment. Thus, over the past decade the RDN has provided numerous joint equipment for a variety of interdisciplinary research projects. This provides state-of-the-art methods for investigating molecular and cellular aspects as well as cognitive processes (see also Core Facilities).

The research building THINK (Center for Theoretical and Integrative Neuroscience and Cognitive Science), which is currently under construction (opening mid 2025), will also provide approximately 4,000 square meters of floor space containing the most modern infrastructure for interdisciplinary research on neuronal mechanisms of cognition.

The Research Department of Neuroscience supports and promotes cooperation between scientists in the field of neuroscience and cognitive research with the aim of establishing collaborative research initiatives, which in turn increase the research strength of the RDN. In this way, the RDN acts as a structure to enable excellent, interdisciplinary, internationally visible research that builds on coordinated projects such as Collaborative Research Centers and extends them beyond this.

From 2010 - 2022, for example, the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center SFB 874 "Integration and Representation of Sensory Processes" (speaker: Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan) acted as a hub and led to the establishment of the Research Department of Neuroscience.

Further research alliances were successfully acquired, such as FOR 1581 in 2011, from which the SFB 1280 "Extinction Learning" (speaker: Prof. Dr. Onur Güntürkün) emerged in 2017. With the FOR 2812 "Constructing scenarios of the past: A new framework in episodic memory" (speaker: Prof. Sen Cheng, established 2019), interdisciplinary memory research was further strengthened. In 2023, the Research Training Group GRK 2862 "Monoaminergic Neuronal Networks & Disease (MoNN&Di)" (speaker: Prof. Dr. Stefan Herlitze) was launched to investigate the modulation of neuronal networks.

The research building THINK (Center for Theoretical and Integrative Neuroscience and Cognitive Science) at RUB (speaker: Prof. Dr. Onur Güntürkün, vice speaker: Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng) will provide additional research infrastructure from mid 2025.

The RDN is closely linked to the Research Center One Health Ruhr from Molecules to Systems, which is part of the University Alliance Ruhr.

In addition, there are numerous participations of PIs of the RDN in other collaborative projects and networks. PIs of the RDN are also involved in national competence networks adressing "Stroke", "Multiple Sclerosis" and "Parkinson's disease".

Detailed information on research projects can be found under Research.

A very important focus at RUB and the RDN is the education of young neuroscientists. The International Graduate School of Neuroscience (IGSN), founded in 2001, is an independent pillar, firmly established under the umbrella of the RDN, for a structured internationally renowned interdisciplinary neuroscience doctoral programme. This is reflected in the high number of talented students in the IGSN from around the world.

This "open Faculty" of neuroscience with its own promotional right to award a "PhD in Neuroscience" at the Ruhr University has almost tripled in size since its founding in 2001. Graduate training for the SFB 1280 and FOR 2812 takes place within the IGSN. There is also close cooperation with the RTG 2862 "Monoaminergic Neuronal Networks & Disease".

The strategy of high level training in the IGSN along with extracurricular soft skills training by the Research School of Ruhr University Bochum and the involvement of doctoral researchers in cutting-edge research projects, promotes the synergy effect of excellent training in an excellent research environment.

The RDN also provides an important role in the support of young scientists at the level of postdoctoral fellows. It supports independent research at a very early stage of young scientists' careers, with the aim of integrating them into the RDN's decision-making processes. This is expressed, among other things, in the fact that postdocs can apply for membership of the RDN if they meet the admission criteria and are thus directly involved in the RDN's decision-making processes.

Photo credits for this page:
Page illustration: SFB 874/Susanne Troll