Braunwell Karl-Heinz Braunewell, Ph.D. - SRI
Leader, Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience Laboratory (Southern Research Institute)

Areas of Focus:  Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, function of neuronal calcium sensors in health and disease 


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Contact Information

Southern Research Institute 2000 Ninth Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35205
(205) 581-2864


Calcium plays a key role in cellular signaling processes such as regulation of enzymatic activities and neurotransmitter release, in neuronal plasticity and gene expression. Calcium-binding proteins have an important role as mediators of calcium signals in cellular signaling pathways in physiological as well as in pathophysiological processes of the central nervous system (CNS). The investigation of intracellular neuronal calcium sensor (NCS) proteins, such as VILIP-1, -2, -3, hippocalcin, neurocalcin and NCS-1 may gain new insights into the physiology and pathophysiology of calcium signaling processes in the brain. (For review, see Braunewell 2005 TiPS. 26:345-351.) The general goal of my research is to understand calcium-dependent signaling mechanisms of NCS proteins at the molecular and cellular level, as well as to clarify the role of NCS protein signaling in CNS disorders. To reach this goal, a broad interdisciplinary approach - including biochemical, molecular biology, cell biology, immunohistochemical as well as electrophysiological methods  - is employed. My lab currently studies structure-function relations of NCS proteins and their interaction partners, the role of NCS protein signaling for morphological differentiation of neurons, and their role in synaptic plasticity and in CNS disorders, ranging from Alzheimer`s disease to schizophrenia.


Dr. Braunewell obtained his Ph.D. in Biology in 1993 at the Institute for Neurobiology (Prof. M. Schachner) at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, and received further postdoctoral research training at the Department for Neurochemistry/Molecular Biology (Prof. E.D. Gundelfinger), Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg, Germany. In 1998, Dr. Braunewell became head of the Signal Transduction Research Group at the Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology, and he was Lecturer (Dr. sc. nat. habil) in Biochemistry at the Medical Faculty of the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg. In 2000, Dr. Braunewell headed the Signal Transduction Research Group at the Neuroscience Research Center (NWFZ) of the Charité, Berlin. In 2001, he became Lecturer and in 2007 Professor of Physiology at the Johannes Müller-Institute, Medical Faculty, Charité, at Humboldt University in Berlin Dr. Braunewell joined Southern Research in 2006 where he is currently an independent PI in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department of the Drug Discovery Division. He is also a member of the faculty at the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center (CNC) at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Throughout his research career, Dr. Braunewell has focused on molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying brain function. In the last decade, he became an expert in neuronal calcium signaling and neuronal calcium sensor (NCS) proteins. Since 1998, his research has been funded by 19 investigator-initiated research grants from local and federal funding agencies in Germany. His work has led to more than 50 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, six book chapters, and seven reviews. Through these efforts, Dr. Braunewell has gained worldwide recognition as an expert in NCS proteins and serves as referee for international funding agencies and peer-reviewed journals. He also served on the editorial board of Calcium-binding Proteins and is currently an associate editor for Current Neuropharmacology.