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Hello, we are the Division of Neurological Sciences 

We study neuroinfectious pathogens and allergic diseases with the overarching goals to understand their pathogenesis and to develop treatments. Recently, we began to engineer our neuroinfectious agents for exploitation in cancer therapy.

Our mission

  • Study the pathogenesis of neuroinfectious diseases in animals
  • Study the immunological aspects of animal diseases, with a focus on equine allergy
  • Exploit microbes for cancer therapy and contribute to the development of new treatment strategies
  • Surveillance of neuroinfectious diseases in animals
  • Give scientific and methodological support to the study of neurological and immunological diseases in animals
  • Provide neuropathology expertise
  • Promote students and young researchers in their scientific careers

History of the Division of Neurological Sciences

  • Our Division was founded by Ernst Frauchiger, a human neurologist, and Walter Hofmann, professor of large animal medicine at the Veterinary Faculty in Bern as “Institute of Comparative Neurology” in the early 20 th century because of the increased interest in neurological diseases of animals as models for human diseases. The mission of the institute was to compare neurological diseases occurring in animals to human diseases. This interdisciplinary cooperation between human and veterinary medicine resulted in numerous publications including articles and books on comparative neurology, psychology and philosophy such as the seminal book on the “Comparative neuropathology of humans and animals” (1957). Rudolf Fankhauser, a Veterinarian trained by Ernst Frauchiger who became director of the institute in 1970, considerably contributed to the foundation for veterinary neurology and neuropathology by systematically characterizing neurological diseases in animals including canine distemper encephalitis, brain tumors and granulomatous meningoencephalitis. When Marc Vandevelde, veterinary neurologist and neuropathologist, took over the direction in 1985, the institute was renamed “Institute of Animal Neurology” to reflect the increasing importance of clinical neurology as specialization. This discipline was gradually built up at the University of Bern by establishing a state–of- the-art neurological referral service and a neurology residency program spearheading the development of veterinary neurology in Europe by training veterinary neurologists from all over Europe, co-founding the European Society of Veterinary Neurology and later on the respective European College. During the BSE epidemic the “Institute of Animal Neurology” was appointed as the OIE and national reference laboratory for animal transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), considerably contributing to the study and surveillance of TSEs. In 2000, the clinical neurology, which became a specialized discipline, was split from the institute and transferred to the small animal hospital as the "Division of Clinical Neurology". The neuropathology, the research and TSE reference laboratories, as well as the clinical immunology and the clinical research platform merged into the “Division of Experimental Clinical Research”, which was headed by Andreas Zurbriggen. Although the “Institute of Animal Neurology” became inexistent as an organizational institution, it continues to live in the strong cooperation and interaction between clinical neurology, neuropathology and research. With the appointment of the four group leaders Eliane Marti, Philippe Plattet, Torsten Seuberlich and Anna Oevermann the research priorities of the Division were set on neuroinfectious diseases and equine allergy. Upon retirement of Andreas Zurbriggen in 2020, the focus of the Division moved from experimental clinical research to neurological diseases and clinical immunology and was therefore renamed “Division of Neurological Sciences”. It gathers neurological research, neuropathology, animal TSE reference laboratory and clinical immunology with four closely interacting groups under one roof and is headed by Anna Oevermann.


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