Günther K.H. Zupanc

Günther K.H. ZupancProfessor
Behavioral Neurobiology; Developmental Neurobiology; Comparative Neurobiology; Regenerative Biology

Department of Biology
Northeastern University
407 Mugar Life Sciences
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Lab Website: http://www.northeastern.edu/neurobiology/

Academic Education

  • Dr. rer. nat. habil., Animal Physiology, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany
  • Ph.D., Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego
  • M.Sc., Biology, University of Regensburg, Germany
  • B.Sc., Physics, University of Regensburg, Germany
  • B.Sc., Biology, University of Regensburg, Germany


  • Professor (since 2009) and Chair (2009-2012), Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Professor of Neurobiology, International University Bremen/Jacobs University Bremen, Germany (2002-2009)
  • Senior Lecturer (equivalent to Associate Professor), University of Manchester, UK (1999-2002)
  • Lecturer (equivalent to Assistant Professor), University of Manchester, UK (1997-1999)
  • Privatdozent (equivalent to Adjunct Associate Professor), Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany (1995 -1997)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Ottawa, Canada (1994-1997)
  • Hermann-von-Helmholtz Fellow and Junior Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany (1992-1997)
  • Postgraduate Research Biologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla (1990-1992)
  • Research Assistant, University of California, San Diego (1988-1990)

Other Professional Activities

  • Visiting Scholar: Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla; University of Ottawa, Canada; University of California, San Diego; University of Chicago; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla; Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology, Seewiesen, Germany; Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla; Tufts University, Boston; Jacobs University Bremen, Germany
  • Editor: Journal of Zoology (2007-2011); Journal of Comparative Physiology-A (2008-)
  • Editorial Board: Brain, Behavior and Evolution (2005-2009); Regenerative Medicine (2005- ); Journal of Comparative Physiology-A (2006-2008)

Research Interests

Research in my laboratory focuses on the exploration of neural mechanisms underlying structural plasticity in the adult central nervous system of vertebrates. In particular, we are interested in the generation of new neurons in the adult brain and spinal cord (‘adult neurogenesis’) and in the replacement of neurons damaged through injury by newly generated ones (‘neuronal regeneration’).

Our investigations are carried out in teleost fish, as these vertebrates – very much in contrast to mammals – exhibit an enormous potential to generate new neurons in both the intact and the injured central nervous system during adulthood. By combining cellular, neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral approaches, we attempt to identify key mechanisms underlying this production of new neurons, and to learn more about the behavioral consequences of the resulting structural dynamics of neural networks.

The ultimate goal of our research is to understand the evolutionary factors that have led to the enormous reduction of the neurogenic potential in mammals, while maintaining the generation of new neurons at high levels in the central nervous system of many non-mammalian taxa. Such a comparative approach will not only be essential to gain a biological understanding of adult neurogenesis, but also bears an enormous potential to open new vistas for the development of novel therapeutic strategies to replace neurons lost to injury or degenerative disease by newly generated ones.


Figure: Newborn cells in the adult zebrafish brain. The cells were labeled with 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine, a marker taken up during the S-phase of mitosis. A. Proliferation revealed by this approach in the optic tectum, a brain area important for processing of visual information. B. Confocal image of labeled cell in late telophase. The two daughter nuclei are connected only by a thin string of labeled nuclear material. Scale bars = 20 μm in A; 10 μm in B.

Teaching Activities

I have been involved in teaching at the University of California, San Diego, the University of Tübingen (Germany), the University of Manchester (UK), the International University Bremen/Jacobs University Bremen (Germany), and at Northeastern University. These teaching activities include lecture courses, laboratory classes, and/or field courses in the areas of Behavioral Neurobiology, Systems Neurobiology, Cellular Neurobiology, Developmental Neurobiology, Neuroendocrinology, Animal Physiology, Ecology, and Marine Biology. My book Behavioral Neurobiology: An Integrative Approach (Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York, 2004 and 2010) is currently the most frequently adopted text in neuroethology worldwide.



Selected Review Articles

    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: From oscillators to modulators: behavioral and neural control of modulations of the electric organ discharge in the gymnotiform fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus. Journal of Physiology (Paris) 96, 459-472 (2002)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H., Bullock, T.H.: From electrogenesis to electroreception: an overview. In: Bullock, T.H., Hopkins, C.D., Popper, A.N., Fay, R.R. (eds.), Electroreception, pp. 5-46. Series: Springer Handbook of Auditory Research. Series Editors: Fay, R.R., Popper, A.N. Springer-Verlag, New York (2005)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H., Zupanc, M.M.: New neurons for the injured brain: mechanisms of neuronal regeneration in adult teleost fish. Regenerative Medicine 1, 207-216 (2006)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: Neurogenesis and neuronal regeneration in the adult fish brain. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 192, 649-670 (2006)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: Chapter 2.24: Adult neurogenesis and neuronal regeneration in the teleost fish brain: implication for the evolution of a primitive vertebrate trait. In: Bullock, T.H., Rubenstein, L.R. (eds.), The Evolution of Nervous Systems in Non-Mammalian Vertebrates, pp. 485-520. Series: Evolution of Nervous Systems, Volume 2. Series Editor: Kaas, J.H. Academic Press, Oxford (2006)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: Adult neurogenesis in teleost fish. In: Gage, F.H., Kempermann, G., Song, H., (eds.), Adult Neurogenesis, pp. 571-592. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor/New York (2008)


    • Stocum, D.L., Zupanc, G.K.H.: Stretching the limits: stem cells in regeneration science. Developmental Dynamics 237, 3648-3671 (2008)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: Adult neurogenesis and neuronal regeneration in the brain of teleost fish. Journal of Physiology (Paris) 102, 357-373 (2008)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: Electrocommunication. In: Squire, L.R. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Volume 3, pp. 839-848. Academic Press, Oxford (2009)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: Towards brain repair: insights from teleost fish. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology 20, 683-690 (2009)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H., Zupanc, M.M.: Proteomic analysis of CNS injury and recovery. In: Clelland, J.D. (ed.), Genomics, Proteomics, and the Nervous System, pp. 511-536. Series: Advances in Neurobiology, Volume 2. Springer-Verlag, New York (2011)


    • Sîrbulescu, R.F., Zupanc, G.K.H.: Spinal cord repair in regeneration-competent vertebrates: adult teleost fish as a model system. Brain Research Reviews 67, 73-93 (2011)


    • Zupanc, G.K.H.: Adult neurogenesis in teleost fish. In: Seki, T., Sawamoto, K., Parent, J.M., Alvarez-Buylla, A. (eds.), Neurogenesis in the Adult Brain I, pp. 137-168. Springer-Verlag, Tokyo (2011)


  • Zupanc, G.K.H., Sîrbulescu, R.F.: Adult neurogenesis and neuronal regeneration in the central nervous system of teleost fish. European Journal of Neuroscience 34, 917-929 (2011)

Complete List of Publications