Gerd Kempermann

Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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Publications (164)1109.13 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We previously reported that inbred, genetically identical mice living in one enriched environment develop individual behavioral trajectories, indicating increasingly different levels of spatial exploratory behavior as quantified by roaming entropy. Cumulative roaming entropy (cRE) correlated positively with adult hippocampal neurogenesis, a type of plasticity involved in the flexible integration of new information into existing contexts (Freund et al., 2013). The study on which we report here was done in parallel to that first experiment, but here we acquired detailed observational data on the behavior of individual mice. Roaming entropy (RE) was again assessed in real-time with an antenna-based system over the entire experimental period of 3 months. Compared to the least active mice in the enclosure (low number of antenna contacts), the most active animals showed tendencies of increased socially interactive behavior in the final observation block whereas least active mice displayed more self-related behavior (non-social local exploration and play). When looking at roaming behavior, we discovered that RE correlated negatively with latent factors representing social exploratory and non-social exploratory and play behavior. Adult neurogenesis could not be studied in the present cohort but we do know that under identical conditions, cumulative RE correlated positively with adult hippocampal neurogenesis. We can thus hypothesize that the mice with more exploratory experience in terms of areal coverage (as quantified by RE) and related greater levels of adult hippocampal plasticity, might also be the ones that were less involved in interactions within the group and, hence, more individualistic. While this remains to be confirmed experimentally, the present data suggest that the described mechanism of individualization, which has previously been shown to be hippocampus-dependent, has a social component.
    Neuroscience 05/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.05.027 · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    Zeina Nicola · Klaus Fabel · Gerd Kempermann
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    ABSTRACT: When does adult hippocampal neurogenesis begin? We describe the development of the neurogenic niche in the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. We did so from the perspective of the situation in the adult. Ontogeny of the dentate gyrus is complex and results in an ectopic neurogenic niche that lifelong generates new granule cells. Neurogenesis during the fetal and early postnatal periods builds the dentate gyrus and gives way to activity-dependent "adult" neurogenesis. We used markers most relevant to adult neurogenesis research to describe this transition: Nestin, Sox2, BLBP, GFAP, Tbr2, Doublecortin (DCX), NeuroD1 and Prox1. We found that massive changes and a local condensation of proliferating precursor cells occurs between postnatal day 7 (P7), near the peak in proliferation, and P14. Before and around P7, the spatial distribution of cells and the co-localization of markers were distinct from the situation in the adult. Unlike the adult SGZ, the marker pair Nestin/Sox2 and the radial glial marker BLBP were not overlapping during embryonic development, presumably indicating different types of radial glia-like cells. Before P7 GFAP-positive cells in the hilus lacked the radial orientation that is characteristic of the adult type-1 cells. DCX, which is concentrated in type-2b and type-3 progenitor cells and early postmitotic neurons in the adult, showed diffuse expression before P7. Intermediate progenitor cell marker Tbr2 became restricted to the SGZ but was found in the granule cell layer (GCL) and hilus before. Lineage markers NeuroD1 and Prox1 confirmed this pattern. We conclude that the neurogenic niche of adult neurogenesis is in place well before true adulthood. This might indicate that consistent with the hypothesized function of adult neurogenesis in activity-dependent plasticity, the early transition from postnatal neurogenesis to adult neurogenesis coincides with the time, when the young mice start to become active themselves.
    Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 05/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnana.2015.00053 · 4.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Matrix-metalloproteinase and photosensitive peptide units are combined with heparin and poly(ethylene glycol) into a light-sensitive multicomponent hydrogel material. Localized degradation of the hydrogel matrix allows the creation of defined spatial constraints and adhesive patterning for cells grown in culture. Using this matrix system, it is demonstrated that the degree of confinement determines the fate of neural precursor cells in vitro.
    Advanced Healthcare Materials 03/2015; DOI:10.1002/adhm.201400395 · 4.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CyclinD2 knockout mice show decreased levels of endogenous dentate neurogenesis. We investigated whether transplanted dentate progenitor cells from wild-type mice respond in vivo to an enriched environment and whether they improve deficient dentate neurogenesis through a neurotrophic effect. Adult CyclinD2 knockout mice were transplanted with passaged adult progenitor cells and kept in an enriched environment or under standard housing conditions in isolation. After one week, animals living in an enriched environment underwent water maze testing. Progenitor cells grown on a Laminin/Poly-D-Lysine monolayer expressed SOX2 and Nestin and could be differentiated in vitro into neurons and astrocytes. After transplantation into the dentate gyrus, cells preferentially survived along the Laminin-rich ependymal lining of the basal cistern or basal membrane of capillaries. A subpopulation of transplanted cells migrated into the interstitial space of the hippocampus and was not associated with Laminin. Environmental enrichment led to a significant increase in the survival of transplanted progenitor cells on Laminin in the dentate gyrus after two weeks. However, animals did not show an enhanced performance in the Morris water maze, and transplantation failed to exert a neurotrophic effect on endogenous neurogenesis after two weeks. A major limitation of the study however is the short-term period of investigation, which may have been insufficient to capture functional effects. In conclusion, initial survival of transplanted neural progenitor cells was dependent on the presence of Laminin and was significantly enhanced by environmental enrichment. Further studies are needed to address whether an enriched environment continues to promote graft survival over longer periods of time.
  • Gerd Kempermann
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    ABSTRACT: In this brief chapter, the question is discussed whether acutely stimulating adult hippocampal neurogenesis would indeed be a meaningful medical intervention. This is generally assumed. However, the degree to which new neurons are lastingly integrated into the neuronal network is not only a matter of the acute availability of a pool of precursor cells and immature neurons but also (and more importantly) specific survival of the newborn cells. Under normal conditions, only a small percentage of new cells terminally differentiate into new granule cells. Across the lifespan, a sufficiently large pool of recruitable cells must be maintained, rather than focusing on achieving acute peaks of proliferation, because these new cells can only build upon what is already present. Consequently, maintaining youthful levels of precursor cell activity in the dentate gyrus is a prerequisite for lifelong, cellular plasticity.
    01/2015: pages 119-123;
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    ABSTRACT: Could impaired adult hippocampal neurogenesis be a relevant mechanism underlying CADASIL (Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy)? Memory symptoms in CADASIL, the most common hereditary form of vascular dementia, are usually thought to be primarily due to vascular degeneration and white matter lacunes. Since adult hippocampal neurogenesis, a process essential for the integration of new spatial memory occurs in a highly vascularized niche, we considered dysregulation of adult neurogenesis as a potential mechanism for the manifestation of dementia in CADASIL. Analysis in aged mice overexpressing Notch3 with a CADASIL mutation, revealed vascular deficits in arteries of the hippocampal fissure but not in the niche of the dentate gyrus. At 12months of age, cell proliferation and survival of newborn neurons was reduced in CADASIL mice but also in transgenic controls overexpressing wild type Notch3. At 6months, hippocampal neurogenesis was altered in CADASIL mice independently of overt vascular abnormalities in the fissure. Further, we identified Notch3 expression in hippocampal precursor cells and maturing neurons in vivo as well as in cultured hippocampal precursor cells. Overexpression and knockdown experiments showed that Notch3 signaling negatively regulated precursor cell proliferation. Notch3 overexpression also led to deficits in KCl-induced precursor cell activation. This suggests a cell-autonomous effect of Notch3 signaling in the regulation of precursor proliferation and activation and a loss-of-function effect in CADASIL. Consequently, besides vascular damage, aberrant precursor cell proliferation and differentiation due to Notch3 dysfunction might be an additional independent mechanism for the development of hippocampal dysfunction in CADASIL. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Neurobiology of Disease 12/2014; 75. DOI:10.1016/j.nbd.2014.12.018 · 5.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Exercise stimulates cellular brain plasticity by extending the pool of proliferating neural precursor cells in the adult hippocampus. This effect has been investigated extensively, but the most immediate cellular effect induced by exercise that results in this acute increase in the number of cycling cells remained unclear. In the developing brain as well as adult pathological models, cell cycle alterations have a major influence on the balance between proliferative and neurogenic divisions. In this study we investigated whether this might also apply to the acute physiological pro-neurogenic stimulus of physical exercise in adulthood. Do changes in cell cycle precede the measurable increase in proliferation? After 5 days of voluntary wheel running, however, we measured only a very small, statistically not significant acceleration in cell cycle, which could not quantitatively explain the observed increase in proliferating cells after exercise. Thus, at this acute stage, changes at the level of cell cycle control is not the primary causal mechanism for the expansion of the precursor cell population, although with time after the stimulus changes in cell cycle of the entire population of labeled cells might be the result of the expanded pool of cells that have progressed to the advanced neurogenic stages with shorter cell cycle length.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 10/2014; 8:314. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2014.00314 · 3.70 Impact Factor
  • Nambirajan Govindarajan · Gerd Kempermann
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    ABSTRACT: In May this year, Stockholm hosted a Keystone Symposium on Adult Neurogenesis, attracting scientists from around the world despite the lack of customary snow. The symposium offered an extraordinary program, covering diverse topics that ranged from the neural stem cell lineage and regulation of neurogenesis to functional aspects of neurogenesis in homeostasis and disease, and even computational modeling. This Meeting Review describes some of the exciting presentations and emerging themes from the symposium, which reveal how much this young field has matured.
    Development 10/2014; 141(19):3615-3618. DOI:10.1242/dev.109520 · 6.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CD4 + T cells provide a neuro-immunological link in the regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, but the exact mechanisms underlying enhanced neural precursor cell proliferation and the relative contribution of different T helper (Th) cell subsets have remained unclear. Here, we explored the proneurogenic potential of interleukin 17-producing T helper (Th17) cells, a developmentally and functionally distinct Th cell subset that is a key mediator of autoimmune neurodegeneration. We found that base-line proliferation of hippocampal precursor cells in a T cell-deficient mouse model of impaired hippocampal neurogenesis can be restored upon adoptive transfer with homogeneous Th17 populations enriched for myelin-reactive T cell receptors. In these experiments, enhanced proliferation was independent of direct interactions of infiltrating Th17 cells with precursor cells or neighboring cells in the hippocampal neurogenic niche. Complementary studies in immunocompetent mice identified several receptors for Th17 cell-derived cytokines with mRNA expression in hippocampal precursor cells and dentate gyrus tissue, suggesting that Th17 cell activity in peripheral lymphoid tissues might promote hippocampal neurogenesis through secreted cytokines.
    07/2014; 3:169. DOI:10.12688/f1000research.4439.1
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    ABSTRACT: Studies using the Morris water maze to assess hippocampal function in animals, in which adult hippocampal neurogenesis had been suppressed, have yielded seemingly contradictory results. Cyclin D2 knockout (Ccnd2−/−) mice, for example, have constitutively suppressed adult hippocampal neurogenesis but had no overt phenotype in the water maze. In other paradigms, however, ablation of adult neurogenesis was associated with specific deficits in the water maze. We therefore hypothesized that the neurogenesis-related phenotype might also become detectable in Ccnd2−/− mice, if we used the exact set-up and protocol that in our previous study had revealed deficits in mice with suppressed adult neurogenesis. Ccnd2−/− mice indeed learned the task and developed a normal preference for the goal quadrant, but were significantly less precise for the exact goal position and were slower in acquiring efficient and spatially more precise search strategies. Upon goal-reversal (when the hidden platform was moved to a new position) Ccnd2−/− mice showed increased perseverance at the former platform location, implying that they were less flexible in updating the previously learned information. Both with respect to adult neurogenesis and behavioral performance, Ccnd2+/− mice ranged between wildtypes and knockouts. Importantly, hippocampus-dependent learning was not generally impaired by the mutation, but specifically functional aspects relying on precise and flexible encoding were affected. Whether ablation of adult neurogenesis causes a specific behavioral phenotype thus also depends on the actual task demands. The test parameters appear to be important variables influencing whether a task can pick up a contribution of adult neurogenesis to test performance.
    Genes Brain and Behavior 03/2014; 13(4). DOI:10.1111/gbb.12130 · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    Gerd Kempermann
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    ABSTRACT: In the adult brain, new neurons are produced in two "canonical" regions: the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb. Ernst et al. now show that, unlike other species, humans also display robust neurogenesis in the striatum, an unexpected finding with important physiological, pathological, and evolutionary implications.
    Cell 02/2014; 156(5):870-1. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.027 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    Tara L Walker · Gerd Kempermann
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    ABSTRACT: The neurosphere assay and the adherent monolayer culture system are valuable tools to determine the potential (proliferation or differentiation) of adult neural stem cells in vitro. These assays can be used to compare the precursor potential of cells isolated from genetically different or differentially treated animals to determine the effects of exogenous factors on neural precursor cell proliferation and differentiation and to generate neural precursor cell lines that can be assayed over continuous passages. The neurosphere assay is traditionally used for the post-hoc identification of stem cells, primarily due to the lack of definitive markers with which they can be isolated from primary tissue and has the major advantage of giving a quick estimate of precursor cell numbers in brain tissue derived from individual animals. Adherent monolayer cultures, in contrast, are not traditionally used to compare proliferation between individual animals, as each culture is generally initiated from the combined tissue of between 5-8 animals. However, they have the major advantage that, unlike neurospheres, they consist of a mostly homogeneous population of precursor cells and are useful for following the differentiation process in single cells. Here, we describe, in detail, the generation of neurosphere cultures and, for the first time, adherent cultures from individual animals. This has many important implications including paired analysis of proliferation and/or differentiation potential in both the subventricular zone (SVZ) and dentate gyrus (DG) of treated or genetically different mouse lines, as well as a significant reduction in animal usage.
    Journal of Visualized Experiments 02/2014; DOI:10.3791/51225 · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study builds on the findings that physical activity, such as wheel running in mice, enhances cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus of the common mouse strain C57BL/6, and that the baseline level of neurogenesis varies by strain, being considerably lower in DBA/2. Because C57BL/6 and DBA/2 are important as the parental strains of the BXD recombinant inbred cross which allows the detection of genetic loci regulating phenotypes such as adult neurogenesis, we performed the current study to investigate the gene x environment interactions regulating neurogenesis. At equal distances and times run DBA/2J mice lacked the acute increase in precursor cell proliferation known from C57BL/6. In DBA/2J proliferation even negatively correlated with the distance run. This was neither due to a stress response (to running itself or single housing) nor differences in estrous cycle. DBA/2 animals exhibited a delayed and weaker pro-neurogenic response with a significant increase in numbers of proliferating cells first detectable after more than a week of wheel running. The proliferative response to running was transient in both strains, the effect being undetectable by 6 weeks. There was also a small transient increase in the production of new neurons in DBA/2J, although these extra cells did not survive. These findings indicate that the comparison between C57BL/6 and DBA/2, and by extension the BXD genetic reference population derived from these strains, should provide a powerful tool for uncovering the complex network of modifier genes affecting the activity-dependent regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis. More generally, our findings also describe how the external physical environment interacts with the internal genetic environment to produce different responses to the same behavioral stimuli.
    PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e83797. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0083797 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously hypothesized that the reason why physical activity increases precursor cell proliferation in adult neurogenesis is that movement serves as non-specific signal to evoke the alertness required to meet cognitive demands. Thereby a pool of immature neurons is generated that are potentially recruitable by subsequent cognitive stimuli. Along these lines, we here tested whether auditory stimuli might exert a similar non-specific effect on adult neurogenesis in mice. We used the standard noise level in the animal facility as baseline and compared this condition to white noise, pup calls, and silence. In addition, as patterned auditory stimulus without ethological relevance to mice we used piano music by Mozart (KV 448). All stimuli were transposed to the frequency range of C57BL/6 and hearing was objectified with acoustic evoked potentials. We found that except for white noise all stimuli, including silence, increased precursor cell proliferation (assessed 24 h after labeling with bromodeoxyuridine, BrdU). This could be explained by significant increases in BrdU-labeled Sox2-positive cells (type-1/2a). But after 7 days, only silence remained associated with increased numbers of BrdU-labeled cells. Compared to controls at this stage, exposure to silence had generated significantly increased numbers of BrdU/NeuN-labeled neurons. Our results indicate that the unnatural absence of auditory input as well as spectrotemporally rich albeit ethological irrelevant stimuli activate precursor cells-in the case of silence also leading to greater numbers of newborn immature neurons-whereas ambient and unstructured background auditory stimuli do not.
    Brain Structure and Function 12/2013; DOI:10.1007/s00429-013-0679-3 · 4.57 Impact Factor
  • Gerd Kempermann
    Science 06/2013; 340(6137):1180-1. DOI:10.1126/science.1240681 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Brain plasticity as a neurobiological reflection of individuality is difficult to capture in animal models. Inspired by behavioral-genetic investigations of human monozygotic twins reared together, we obtained dense longitudinal activity data on 40 inbred mice living in one large enriched environment. The exploratory activity of the mice diverged over time, resulting in increasing individual differences with advancing age. Individual differences in cumulative roaming entropy, indicating the active coverage of territory, correlated positively with individual differences in adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Our results show that factors unfolding or emerging during development contribute to individual differences in structural brain plasticity and behavior. The paradigm introduced here serves as an animal model for identifying mechanisms of plasticity underlying nonshared environmental contributions to individual differences in behavior.
    Science 05/2013; 340(6133):756-9. DOI:10.1126/science.1235294 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Voluntary wheel running has long been known to induce precursor cell proliferation in adult hippocampal neurogenesis in rodents. However, mechanisms that couple activity with the promitotic effect are not yet fully understood. Using tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) 2 deficient (Tph2-deficient) mice that lack brain serotonin, we explored the relationship between serotonin signaling and exercise-induced neurogenesis. Surprisingly, Tph2-deficient mice exhibit normal baseline hippocampal neurogenesis but impaired activity-induced proliferation. Our data demonstrate that the proproliferative effect of running requires the release of central serotonin in young-adult and aged mice. Lack of brain serotonin further results in alterations at the stage of Sox2-positive precursor cells, suggesting physiological adaptations to changes in serotonin supply to maintain homeostasis in the neurogenic niche. We conclude that serotonin plays a direct and acute regulatory role in activity-dependent hippocampal neurogenesis. The understanding of exercise-induced neurogenesis might offer preventive but also therapeutic opportunities in depression and age-related cognitive decline.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 05/2013; 33(19):8270-5. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5855-12.2013 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    Alexander Garthe · Gerd Kempermann
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    ABSTRACT: The Morris water maze represents the de-facto standard for testing hippocampal function in laboratory rodents. In the field of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, however, using this paradigm to assess the functional relevance of the new neurons yielded surprisingly inconsistent results. While some authors found aspects of water maze performance to be linked to adult neurogenesis, others obtained different results or could not demonstrate any effect of manipulating adult neurogenesis. In this review we discuss evidence that the large diversity of protocols and setups used is an important aspect in interpreting the differences in the results that have been obtained. Even simple parameters such as pool size, number, and configuration of visual landmarks, or number of trials can become highly relevant for getting the new neurons involved at all. Sets of parameters are often chosen with implicit or explicit concepts in mind and these might lead to different views on the function of adult-generated neurons. We propose that the classical parameters usually used to measure spatial learning performance in the water maze might not be particularly well-suited to sensitively and specifically detect the supposedly highly specific functional changes elicited by the experimental modulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis. As adult neurogenesis is supposed to affect specific aspects of information processing only in the hippocampus, any claim for a functional relevance of the new neurons has to be based on hippocampus-specific parameters. We also placed a special emphasis on the fact that the dentate gyrus (DG) facilitates the differentiation between contexts as opposed to just differentiating places. In conclusion, while the Morris water maze has proven to be one of the most effective testing paradigms to assess hippocampus-dependent spatial learning, new and more specific questions ask for new parameters. Therefore, the full potential of the water maze task remains to be tapped.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 05/2013; 7:63. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2013.00063 · 3.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is to a large degree controlled at the level of cell survival, and a number of potential mediators of this effect have been postulated. Here, we investigated the small heat shock protein Hspb8, which, because of its pleiotropic prosurvival effects in other systems, was considered a particularly promising candidate factor. Hspb8 is, for example, found in plaques of Alzheimer disease but exerts neuroprotective effects. We found that expression of Hspb8 increased during differentiation in vitro and was particularly associated with later stages (48 –96 h) of differentiation. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments supported the hypothesis that Hspb8 regulates cell survival of new neurons in vitro. In the dentate gyrus of adult mice in vivo, lentiviral overexpression of Hspb8 doubled the surviving cells and concomitantly promoted differentiation and net neurogenesis without affecting precursor cell prolifer-ation. We also discovered that the truncated form of the crystallin domain of Hspb8 was sufficient to affect cell survival and neuronal differentiation in vitro and in vivo. Precursor cell experiments in vitro revealed that Hspb8 increases the phosphorylation of Akt and suggested that the prosurvival effect can be produced by a cell-autonomous mechanism. Analysis of hippocampal Hspb8 expression in mice of 69 strains of the recombinant inbred set BXD revealed that Hspb8 is a cis-acting gene whose expression was associated with clusters of transcript enriched in genes linked to growth factor signaling and apoptosis. Our results strongly suggest that Hspb8 and its -crystallin domain might act as pleiotropic prosurvival factor in the adult hippocampus.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 03/2013; 33((13)):5785-5796. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6452-11.2013 · 6.75 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

22k Citations
1,109.13 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2010–2015
    • Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2008–2015
    • Technische Universität Dresden
      • Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 2007–2014
    • Center for Regenerative Therapies, Dresden
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 2001–2010
    • Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2002–2009
    • Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin
      • Department of Neurology with Chair in Experimental Neurology/BNIC
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2002–2005
    • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
      • Institute for Theoretical Biology (ITB)
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 1999–2000
    • Universität Regensburg
      • Department of Neurology
      Ratisbon, Bavaria, Germany
  • 1997–1999
    • Salk Institute
      • Laboratory of Genetics
      La Jolla, California, United States
  • 1998
    • Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies
      Port St. Lucie, Florida, United States