Professor Tibor Harkany Center for Brain Research, Medical University of Vienna – The European Neuroscience Institute - Medical University of Vienna

Molecular Neurosciences

  • Center for Brain Research, Medical University of Vienna
  • [email protected]
  • +43 1 40160 34050 or 34051
  • +43 1 40160 934053
  • tibhar007
  • Austria

Team Lead


Type Title Last updated
Cv Curriculum Vitae - Tibor Harkany about 4 years ago
Method Technical Expertise over 4 years ago

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About Professor Tibor Harkany

Tibor Harkany is a molecular neurobiologist. He is the recently appointed chair of the Department of Molecular Neurosciences at the Center for Brain Research of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. He also holds the post of Professor of Neurobiology at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

The Harkany group carries out frontier and multidisciplinary research, primarily focusing on the following topics:

  • Endocannabinoid signaling in the developing nervous system,
  • Molecular mechanisms of psychoactive drug action in the fetal brain,
  • Calcium-binding protein functions in the nervous system, with particular emphasis on hypothalamic neuropeptide and hormone release,
  • Molecular identity of sensory and hypothalamic neurons.

During the recent past, significant research activity was dedicated towards understanding the system-level, cellular and molecular organisation of endocannabinoid signalling networks in the developing cerebral cortex. These studies identified endocannabinoids as axon guidance cues, and demonstrated that sub-cellular enzymatic arrangements for endocannabinoid metabolism are such that endocannabinoid signals focus in growth cones, allowing for an autocrine action for these bioactive lipids. Notably, these molecular studies also suggested that BRCA1 is a candidate ubiquitin ligase involved in determining the turnover of monoacylglycerol lipase, a rate-limiting enzyme of endocannabinoid degradation. In addition, a combination of unbiased proteomics, mouse genetics and molecular pharmacology studies demonstrated that THC from Cannabis spp. impairs synaptic organisation of the cerebral cortex by modifying cytoskeletal instability. In particular, SCG10/brain-specific stathmin-2 was identified as a key molecular target downstream from CB1 cannabinoid receptors.

Another line of research is aimed at identifying novel calcium-binding proteins (particularly sensors) in the central nervous system. A prime example is secretagogin, which is expressed during embryonic development, localises to migrating neuronal contingents, which mature into specific and distinct subtypes of olfactory, amygdala, hippocampal and hypothalamic neurons. Recent data show that secretagogin's calcium-sensor function is required for the molecular control of CRH release in the hypothalamus upon acute stress. These studies, also combining single cell transcriptome analysis with unbiased proteomics, defined a hitherto unknown population of parvocellular neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus controlling the induction of the HPA axis upon acute stress.

Secretagogin as a neuronal identity marker in the hypothalamus

The many faces of cortical development: axonal projections in the forebrain

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2013 - Eric K. Fernström Prize for young researchers (Stockholm/Lund)
2013 - “IACM Award 2013” for young researchers (by the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines).
2012 - Anders Jahre medical prize for young researchers (University of Oslo); shared with K. Petras (Lund University).
2010 - Elected Fellow (FSB), Society for Biology, United Kingdom.
2009 - Elected Member of the Society of Hungarian Scientists and Scholars; Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.
2008 - Senior researcher award, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
2007 - Member, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) - Young Investigator Programme.
2007 - Readership, Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance (SULSA), Cell Biology Directorate.
2002 - Post-doctoral fellowship, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
1998 - Short-term fellowship of the International Soros Foundation.
1996 - Short-term fellowship of the Eötvös Foundation, Hungarian Scholarship Board.
1996–1997 - ‘Ph.D. thesis support’ from the Hungarian Credit Bank (MHB/ABN AMRO).
1993–1995 - ‘Outstanding Young Biologist’, Scholarship of Varga Béla Foundation (Hungary).
1993–1995 - Hungarian State Scholarship.