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Harald Sontheimer, Ph.D.

Harald Sontheimer, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

Warren K. Bickel, Ph.D. headshot

“For me, it is all about understanding brain cancer, glia and the immune system, and glial cell contributions to nervous system injury and disease.”


Understanding the brain's most abundant cell type

What can knowledge of glial cells teach us about cancer, Alzheimer's disease and human health in general? 

Harald Sontheimer researches the biology of glial cells, the brain's most abundant cell type. He is credited with making foundational discoveries on the functional properties of glial cells in the brain, including the localization and mechanisms of a range of receptors and ion channels that were previously thought to exist only on nerve cells.

Currently, the Sontheimer  Lab studies the molecular structure and activity of glial cells in health, cancer, and other diseases. He and his research team work to understand the mechanisms underpinning the functions of glial cells, and how these functions may fault.

Robert SM, Buckingham SC, Campbell SL, Robel S, Holt KT, Ogunrinu-Babarinde T, Warren PP, White DM, Reid MA, Eschbacher JM, Berens ME, Lahti AC, Nabors LB, Sontheimer H. (2015). SLC7A11 expression is associated with seizures and predicts poor survival in patients with malignant glioma. Science Translational Medicine 7(289).

Robel S, Buckingham SC, Boni JL, Campbell SL, Danbolt NC, Riedmann T, Sutor B, Sontheimer H. (2015). Reactive astrogliosis causes the development of spontaneous seizures. Journal of Neuroscience 35(8): 3330-45.

Sontheimer HW. (2015). Diseases of the Nervous System . Elsevier.

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Professor, Department of Neurobiology
Director, Center for Glial Biology in Medicine
Director, Civitan International Research Center
Director, Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program

Yale University School of Medicine
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurobiology

  • University of Heidelberg: Ph.D., Cell Biology and Biophysics
  • Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, 2011
  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentorship, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2010
  • McNulty Civitan Scientist Award, 2004
  • Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Member, European Society for Neuroscience
  • Member, German Zoological Society
  • Member, New York Academy of Sciences
  • Member, Society for Neuroscience
  • Member, Society for Neurochemistry
  • Member, Society for Developmental Neuroscience

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