Volkmar Leßmann is the Director of the Institute of Physiology at the Medical Faculty of the Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg. His research is focussed on molecular and cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in health and disease. Using combined electrophysiological and advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques, his group investigates how neuromodulatory transmitters like dopamine and neurotrophins like BDNF shape synaptic transmission in neuronal circuits of the mouse hippocampus and amygdala, and how this affects learning in vivo. In collaboration with Psychiatrists, Neurologists, and Sports scientists from the University Clinics of Magdeburg and Jena, his team further investigates the role of BDNF as a biomarker in patients of major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia and dementia. Together with the group of Frank Ohl from the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology Magdeburg, his research in the DZPG addresses optogenetically driven BDNF regulation of neuronal access points in maladapted cortico-hippocampal circuits that are involved in MDD and fear learning.