Katharina Dach

photo: Katherine Dach

Post Doctoral Scholar


Bad Hersfeld, Germany


I studied chemistry at the Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg in Germany where I obtained my masters degree in November 2011. From March 2012 until December 2015 I performed my PhD thesis in the group of Prof. Ellen Fritsche at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine (IUF) in Duesseldorf, Germany. Within my thesis I studied whether the developmental neurotoxic effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on proliferation, migration and differentiation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) grown as neurospheres are caused by interference with thyroid hormone (TH) signaling. During my postdoctoral scholarship at the IUF in 2016 I collaborated on an EPA funded grant with the group of Pamela Lein characterizing TH signaling in different in vitro models and zebrafish.

In January 2016 I started my postdoctoral fellowship in the group of Pamela Lein. The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD), most notably autism spectrum disorder (ASD), has increased significantly over the past decades. Humans are exposed to ten thousands of chemicals and only a small percentage of those has been evaluated for (developmental) neurotoxic potential. In order to test and prioritize those compounds, it is necessary to move forward from in vivo rodent models to in vitro cell culture as well as alternative animal models (‘Toxicology in the 21st century’ principle). In this context a 91-compound library was sent to different labs to get tested in various in vitro and alternative animal models. The aim is to determine how predictive those models are and for which endpoints assays are still missing. I screen this compound library in zebrafish larvae (mortality, teratology, behavior) and will then perform mechanistic studies on selected chemicals. Furthermore, I study the developmental neurotoxic effects and modes of actions of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in zebrafish larvae and in rat primary neuronal cultures.

In my free time I like reading books, meeting friends and go indoor climbing.