Prof. Dr. rer. nat.
Ulrike Hendgen-Cotta

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med.
Tienush Rassaf

Director of the Department of Cardiology & Vascular Medicine

Dr. med.
Stephan Settelmeier

Prof. Dr. rer. nat.
Elke Winterhager

Zohreh Varasteh


cand. med.
Fabrice Reyes

Atefeh Hosseini

MSc, PhD Student

Andrea Odersky


Christoph Jesenek


Pia Stock

M. Sc.
Shah Bahrullah Shah

Topics and Vision

The physiopathology of mitochondria

Mitochondria are multifunctional organelles. They supply ATP through oxidative phosphorylation and are a major hub for cellular Ca2+ signalling. Disturbed in their structural and functional integrity, mitochondria drive cellular dysfunction, as they are limited in ATP synthesis and becoming the major source of reactive oxygen species. Mitochondria also provide a point of convergence for a variety of upstream cell death stimuli that transform them into death-promoting organelles.

We aim to investigate the mechanistic and regulatory insights of this mitochondrial physiopathology within cardiomyocytes.

The long-term goal is to understand molecular pathways that regulate the mitochondrial decision on cell fate in order to develop a protective shield that ensures mitochondrial health and prevents loss of cardiac function.

Ein Arzt zeichnet etwas auf eine Tafel.

We always seek for ambitious young researchers as an addition to our lab, do not hesitate to contact us for internships!


  • BNIP3 and BAX as a mitochondrial membrane attack complex in myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury and development of heart failure
  • Design and development of mitochondria-protecting drug candidates
  • Radioactive tracing of cardio drug candidates
  • Regulation of cardiac energy metabolism by BNIP3 interacting with mitochondrial F1FO-ATP synthase
  • Regulation of Doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity and its prevention
  • Remodeling of mitochondria in mice and human heart failure
  • Mitochondrial remodeling as the driver for cardiomyocyte damages in acute and chronic stroke-hearts



  • Protein biochemistry
  • Genexpression evaluations
  • Mitochondria remodelling
    • Measurements of mitochondrial membrane potential
    • Swelling
    • Calcium capacities
    • Respiratory evaluations by extracellular flux analysis
    • Activity assays
    • Cell death signalling
    • Metabolism
  • Imaging
    • Immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy
    • Electron microscopy (Mitochondrial mapping, FIB-SEM, TOMO)
    • Light sheet microscopy

Honors / Talks




  • Prof. Robert Ahrends, Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • Prof. Udo Bakowsky, Department of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany
  • Prof. Jürgen Bernhagen, Vascular Biology, Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research (ISD), Klinikum der Universität München (KUM), Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU); Munich Heart Alliance & Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy) Munich, Germany
  • Prof. Gerald W. Dorn II, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  • Prof. Valentina Giorgio, Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, Bologna, Italy
  • PD John Heiker, Helmholtz Institute for Metabolic, Obesity and Vascular Research & Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences Leipzig, University Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  • Prof. Livia C Hool, School of Human Sciences (Physiology), The University of Western Australia, Crawley & Victor Chang Innovation Centre, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia
  • Prof. Joanna Majerczak, Chair of Exercise Physiology and Muscle Bioenergetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland
  • Prof. Jochen Pöling, Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim, Germany
  • Prof. Albert Sickmann, Department of Bioanalytics, Leibniz-Institut für Analytische Wissenschaften – ISAS e.V., Dortmund, Germany
  • Dr. Juliane Weiner, Medical Department III – Endocrinology, Nephrology, Rheumatology, University of Leipzig Medical Center, Leipzig, Germany
  • Prof. Dieter Willbold, IBI-7: Structural Biochemistry, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany

On campus

  • Prof. Peter Bayer, Structural and Medicinal Biochemistry, ZMB
  • Prof. Utta Berchner-Pfannschmidt, Ocular Oncology
  • Prof. Katja Ferenz, Institute of Physiology
  • Dr. Maik Hasenberg, Electron Microscopy Unit (Imaging Center Essen)
  • Prof. Markus Kaiser, Department of Chemical Biology
  • Dr. Markus Leo, Prof. Tim Hagenacker, Department of Neurology
  • Prof. Christoph Rischpler, Department of Nuclear Medicine
  • Prof. Alpaslan Tasdogan, Institute for Tumor Metabolism


Please find a list of our Publications on PubMed: