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Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
School of Life Sciences

Station 19
1015 - Lausanne

+41-21-69 30713
+41-21-69 30955

Job opportunities

Dr Johannes Gräff
The Brain and Mind Institute Lausanne

Research Area

Our lab is interested in three main questions. How and where are long-term memories stored in the brain? Why are memories lost during neurodegeneration such as in Alzheimer´s Disease? How can traumatic memories from the past be overcome?

To answer these questions, our lab focuses on the emerging field of neuroepigenetics. "Epi-genetic" mechanisms, i.e. modifications to the chromatin that regulate gene expression without changing the DNA sequence itself, have not only been shown to react to fluctuating environmental contingencies, but also to encode the cell fate of neurons and other cell types during development. With this Janus-faced property of being at once dynamic and stable, we believe that epigenetic mechanisms harbor the potential to better explain the molecular processes that govern learning, memory and memory loss. In extension, because epigenetic mechanisms are also amenable to pharmacological intervention, they might constitute a novel angle on how to counteract memory loss and resilient traumatic memories.

For further information, please also see:


5 Selected Publications

Gräff J., Joseph NF., Horn ME., Samiei A., Meng J., Seo J., Rei D., Bero AW., Phan TX., Wagner F., Holson E., Xu J., Sun J., Neve RL., Mach RH., Haggarty SJ., Tsai LH. (2014) Epigenetic priming of memory updating during reconsolidation to attenuate remote fear memories. Cell, 156 (1-2) : 261-76.

Gräff J., Tsai LH. (2013) Histone acetylation: molecular mnemonics on the chromatin. Nat. Rev. Neurosci., 14 (2) : 97-111.

Gräff J., Kahn M., Samiei A., Gao J., Ota KT., Rei D., Tsai LH. (2013) A dietary regimen of caloric restriction or pharmacological activation of SIRT1 to delay the onset of neurodegeneration. J. Neurosci., 33 (21) : 8951-60.

Gräff J., Rei D., Guan JS., Wang WY., Seo J., Hennig KM., Nieland TJ., Fass DM., Kao PF., Kahn M., Su SC., Samiei A., Joseph N., Haggarty SJ., Delalle I., Tsai LH. (2012) An epigenetic blockade of cognitive functions in the neurodegenerating brain. Nature, 483 (7388) : 222-6.

Gräff J., Woldemichael BT., Berchtold D., Dewarrat G., Mansuy IM. (2012) Dynamic histone marks in the hippocampus and cortex facilitate memory consolidation. Nat. Commun., 3 : 991.

Awards, Fellowships and Honours

2013            MIT School of Science Infinite K Award, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2010            Bard Richmond Research Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (until 2013)
2011            Scholarship, Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology
2009            Fellowship for Prospective Researchers, Swiss National Science Foundation (until 2010)
2009            Travel Grant, Swiss Society of Neuroscience
2008            1st price of the Brain Research Institute PhD Students Presentation Series, EPFL/University of Zurich, Switzerland
2006            Travel Grant for Ph.D. Students, Center for Neuroscience, EPFL/University of Zürich, Switzerland
2006            Travel Grant for Research Assistants, University of Zürich, Switzerland (& 2008, 2009)

Technical Expertise
  • Epigenetics
  • Long-term memories
  • Traumatic memories
  • Memory loss
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Alzheimer´s Disease
  • Animal behavior
  • Molecular epigenetics (ChIP and related techniques)
  • Transcriptional profiling