Skip to main content

Herwig Baier

Herwig Baier (PI, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Munich)


Project(s) involved: Baier/Elstner/Hegemann/Schneider


Curriculum vitae Herwig Baier, PhD

Director of the Department 'Genes – Circuits – Behavior'

Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology



Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology

Am Klopferspitz 18

82152 Martinsried (near Munich)




Phone:             +49-89-8578-3210

Fax:                 +49-89-8578-3208



1985-1990                  Studies of Biology (Diploma), University of Konstanz, Germany

1990-1995                  PhD in Neuroscience and Cell Biology (Dr. rer. nat.), Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany


Professional Experience

1995-1997                  Postdoctoral research fellow, UC San Diego, USA,
Advisor: W. A. Harris

1997/1998                  Visiting Scientist, MPI for Developmental Biology, Department of Genetics (Director: C. Nüsslein-Volhard), Tübingen, Germany

1998-2004                  Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, UC San Francisco, USA

2004-2007                  Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, UC San Francisco, USA

2007-2011                  Full Professor, Department of Physiology, UC San Francisco, USA

Since 2011                 Director and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society, MPI of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany


Academic Honors and Awards (selection)

1991-94                       Graduate Fellowship of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation

1995                            PhD (Dr. rer. nat.), Summa cum laude

1995                            Otto Hahn Medal and Fellowship of the Max Planck Society

1995-97                       Feodor Lynen Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

1999-2004                   David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering

2000                            UCSF Innovation in Basic Science Award

2000-2001                   Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in the Neurosciences

2001-2004                   Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fellowship

2006                            Byers Award for Basic Science Research

2009                            HFSP Research Program Award (with G. Wright, UK, and D. Trauner, Germany)

2011                            Elected Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society

2013                            Elected Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)

2013                            Honorary Professor of the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich



Barker A, Baier H (2015). Sensorimotor decision-making in the zebrafish tectum. Curr Biol 25:2804-14.

Temizer I, Donovan JC, Baier H, Semmelhack JL (2015). A visual pathway for looming-evoked escape in larval zebrafish. Curr Biol 25:1823-34.

Auer TO, Xiao T, Bercier V, Gebhardt C, Duroure K, Concordet JP, Wyart C, Suster M, Kawakami K, Wittbrodt J, Baier H, Del Bene F (2015). Deletion of a kinesin I motor unmasks a mechanism of homeostatic branching control by neurotrophin-3. eLife 05061.

Semmelhack JL, Donovan JC, Thiele TR, Kuehn E, Laurell E, Baier H (2015). A dedicated visual pathway for prey detection in larval zebrafish. eLife 2014;10.7554.

Robles E. Laurell E, Baier H (2014). The retinal projectome reveals brain-area-specific visual representations generated by ganglion cell diversity. Current Biology 24: 2085-2096.

Thiele T, Donovan JC, Baier H (2014). Modular descending control of swim posture in zebrafish. Neuron 83: 679-691.

Goncalves PJ, Arrenberg AB, Hablitzel B, Baier H, Machens CK (2014). Optogenetic perturbations reveal the dynamics of an oculomotor integrator. Front Neural Circuits 8:10.

Kubo F, Hablitzel B, Dal Maschio M, Driever W, Baier H, Arrenberg AB (2014). Functional architecture of an optic flow responsive area that drives horizontal eye movements in zebrafish. Neuron 81:1344-59.

Jia S, Muto A, Orisme W, Henson HE, Parupalli C, Ju B, Baier H, Taylor MR. Zebrafish Cacna1f is required for cone photoreceptor function and synaptic ribbon formation. Hum Mol Genet 23:2981-2994.

Baier H (2013). Synaptic laminae in the visual system – Molecular mechanisms forming layers of perception. Ann Reviews Cell Dev Biol 29:385-416.

Robles E, Filosa A, Baier H (2013). Precise lamination of retinal axons generates multiple parallel input pathways in the tectum. J Neurosci 33:5027-5039.

Barker A, Baier H (2013). SINs and SOMs: Neural circuits for size tuning in the vertebrate visual pathway. Front Neural Circuits 7:89.

Gebhardt C, Baier H, Del Bene F (2013). Direction selectivity in the visual system of the zebrafish larva. Front Neural Circuits 7:111.

Kubo F, Baier H. Combining genetic targeting and optical stimulation for circuit dissection in the zebrafish nervous system. Dahlem Conference 'Optogenetics' (P. Hegemann, S. Sigrist, eds.).

Muto A, Taylor MR, Suzawa M, Korenbrot JI, Baier H. Glucocorticoid receptor activity regulates light adaptation in the zebrafish retina. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 7:145.

Yahyavi M, Abouzeid H, Gawdat G, de Preux AS, Xiao T, Bardakjian T, Schneider A, Choi A, Jorgenson E, Baier H, El Sada M, Schorderet DF, Slavotinek AM (2013). ALDH1A3 loss of function causes bilateral anophthalmia/microphthalmia and hypoplasia of the optic nerve and optic chiasm. Hum Mol Genet 22:3250-8.

Ziv L, Muto A, Schoonheim PJ, Meijsing SH, Strasser D, Ingraham HA, Schaaf MJ, Yamamoto KR, Baier H (2013). An affective disorder in zebrafish with mutation of the glucocorticoid receptor. Mol Psychiatry 18:681-691.

Griffiths BB, Schoonheim PJ, Ziv L, Voelker L, Baier H, Gahtan E (2012). A zebrafish model of glucocorticoid resistance shows serotonergic modulation of the stress response. Front Behav Neurosci 6:68.

Akerboom J, Chen TW, Wardill TJ, Tian L, Marvin JS, Mutlu S, Calderón NC, Esposti F, Borghuis BG, Sun XR, Gordus A, Orger MB, Portugues R, Engert F, Macklin JJ, Filosa A, Aggarwal A, Kerr RA, Takagi R, Kracun S, Shigetomi E, Khakh BS, Baier H, Lagnado L, Wang SS, Bargmann CI, Kimmel BE, Jayaraman V, Svoboda K, Kim DS, Schreiter ER, Looger LL (2012). Optimization of a GCaMP Calcium Indicator for Neural Activity Imaging. J Neurosci 32:13819-40.

Robles E, Baier H (2012). Assembly of synaptic laminae by axon guidance molecules. Curr Opin Neurobiol 22:799-804.

Warp E, Agarwal G, Wyart C, Friedmann D, Oldfield CS, Conner A, Del Bene F, Arrenberg AB, Baier H, Isacoff EY (2012). Emergence of patterned activity in the developing zebrafish spinal cord. Curr Biol 22:93-102.

Miri A, Daie K, Arrenberg AB, Baier H, Aksay E, Tank DW (2011). Spatial gradients and multidimensional dynamics in a neural integrator circuit. Nat Neurosci 14:1150-1159.

Xiao T, Staub W, Robles E, Gosse NJ, Cole GJ, Baier H (2011). Assembly of lamina-specific neuronal connections by Slit bound to type IV collagen. Cell 146:164-176.

Nevin L, Xiao T, Staub W, Baier H (2011). Topoisomerase II? is required for lamina-specific targeting of neurites in the visual pathway. Development 138:2457-2465.

Robles E, Smith SJ, Baier H (2011). Characterization of genetically targeted neuron types in the zebrafish tectum. Front Neural Circuits 5:1.

Huberman AD, Clandinin TR, Baier H (2010). Molecular and cellular mechanisms of lamina-specific axon targeting. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 2:a001743.

Nevin LM, Robles E, Baier H, Scott EK (2010). Focusing on optic tectum circuitry through the lens of genetics. BMC Biol 8:126.

Chao R, Nevin L, Agarwal P, Riemer J, Bai X, Delaney A, Akana M, Jimenez Lopez N, Bardakjian T, Schneider A, Chassaing N, Schorderet DF, FitzPatrick D, Kwok PY, Ellgaard L, Gould DB, Zhang Y, Malicki J, Baier H, Slavotinek A (2010). A male with unilateral microphthalmia reveals a role for TMX3 in eye development. PLoS One 5:e10565.

Schoonheim PJ, Arrenberg AB, Del Bene F, Baier H (2010). Optogenetic localization and genetic disruption of saccade-generating neurons in zebrafish. J Neurosci 30:7111-7120.

Del Bene F, Wyart C, Robles E, Tran A, Looger L, Scott EK, Isacoff EY, Baier H (2010). Filtering of visual information in the tectum by an identified neural circuit. Science 330:669-673.

Arrenberg AB, Stainier DY, Baier H, Huisken J (2010). Optogenetic control of cardiac function. Science 330:971-974.

Baier H, Scott EK (2009). Genetic and optical targeting of neural circuits and behavior – zebrafish in the spotlight. Curr Opin Neurobiol 19:553-560.

Seipold S, Priller FC, Goldsmith P, Harris WA, Baier H, Abdelilah-Seyfried S (2009). Non-SMC condensin I complex proteins control chromosome segregation and survival of proliferating cells in the zebrafish neural retina. BMC Dev Biol 9:40.

Kurrasch DM, Nevin LM, Wong JS, Baier H, Ingraham HA (2009). Neuroendocrine transcriptional programs adapt dynamically to the supply and demand for neuropeptides as revealed in NSF mutant zebrafish. Neural Dev 4:22.

Maddison LA, Lu J, Victoroff T, Scott E, Baier H, Chen W (2009). A gain-of-function screen in zebrafish identifies a guanylate cyclase with a role in neuronal degeneration. Mol Genet Genomics 281:551-563.

Gosse NJ, Baier H (2009). An essential role for Radar (Gdf6a) in inducing dorsal fate in the zebrafish retina. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:2236-2241.

Scott EK, Baier H (2009). The cellular architecture of the zebrafish larval optic tectum, as revealed by Gal4 enhancer trap lines. Front Neural Circuits 3:13.

Arrenberg AB, Del Bene F, Baier H (2009). Optical control of zebrafish behavior with halorhodopsin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:17968-17973.

Wyart C, Del Bene F, Warp E, Scott EK, Trauner D, Baier H, Isacoff EY (2009). Optogenetic dissection of a behavioral module in the vertebrate spinal cord. Nature 461:407-410.

Gosse NJ, Nevin LM, Baier H (2008). Retinotopic order in the absence of axon competition. Nature 452:892-895.

Chi NC, Shaw RM, Jungblut B, Huisken J, Ferrer T, Arnaout R, Scott I, Beis D, Xiao T, Baier H, Jan LY, Tristani-Firouzi M, Stainier DY (2008). Genetic and physiologic dissection of the vertebrate cardiac conduction system. PLoS Biol 6:e109.

Del Bene F, Wehman A, Link BA, Baier H (2008). Regulation of neurogenesis by interkinetic nuclear migration through an apical-basal notch gradient. Cell 134:1055-1065.

Sumbre G, Muto A, Baier H, Poo MM (2008). Entrained rhythmic activities of neuronal ensembles as perceptual memory of time interval. Nature 456:102-106.

Nevin LM, Taylor MR, Baier H (2008). Hardwiring of fine synaptic layers in the zebrafish visual pathway. Neural Dev 3:36.

Wehman AM, Staub W, Baier H (2007). The anaphase-promoting complex is required in both dividing and quiescent cells during zebrafish development. Dev Biol 303:144-156.

Smear MC, Tao HW, Staub W, Orger MB, Gosse NJ, Liu Y, Takahashi KD, Poo MM, Baier H (2007). Vesicular glutamate transport at a central synapse limits the the acuity of visual perception in zebrafish. Neuron 53:65-77.

Scott IC, Masri B, D'Amico LA, Jin SW, Jungblut B, Wehman AM, Baier H, Audigier Y, Stainier DY (2007). The G protein-coupled receptor agtrl1b regulates early development of myocardial progenitors. Dev Cell 12:403-413.

Scott EK, Mason L, Arrenberg A, Ziv L, Gosse NJ, Xiao T, Chi NC, Asakawa K, Kawakami K, Baier H (2007). Targeting neural circuitry in zebrafish using GAL4 enhancer trapping. Nat Methods 4:323-326.

Davison JM, Akitake C, Goll MG, Rhee JM, Gosse NJ, Baier H, et al (2007). Transactivation from Gal4-VP16 transgenic insertions for tissue-specific cell labeling and ablation in zebrafish. Dev Biol 304:811-24.

Szobota S, Gorostiza P, Del Bene F, Wyart C, Fortin DL, Kolstad K, Tulathan O, Volgraf M, Numano R, Aaron H, Scott EK, Kramer R, Flannery J, Baier H, Trauner D, Isacoff EY (2007). Remote control of neuronal activity with a light-gated glutamate receptor. Neuron 54:535-545.

Campbell DS, Stringham SA, Timm A, Xiao T, Law MY, Baier H, Nonet ML, Chien CB (2007). Slit1a inhibits retinal ganglion cell arborization and synaptogenesis via Robo2-dependent and -independent pathways. Neuron 55:231-45.

Del Bene F, Ettwiller L, Skowronska-Krawczyk D, Baier H, Matter JM, Birney E, Wittbrodt J (2007). In vivo validation of a computationally predicted conserved Ath5 target gene set. PLoS Genet 3:1661-71.

Jin SW, Herzog W, Santoro MM, Mitchell TS, Frantsve J, Jungblut B, Beis D, Scott IC, D'Amico LA, Ober EA, Verkade H, Field HA, Chi NC, Wehman AM, Baier H, Stainier DY (2007). A transgene-assisted genetic screen identifies essential regulators of vascular development in vertebrate embryos. Dev Biol 307:29-42.

Xiao T, Baier H (2007). Lamina-specific axonal projections in the zebrafish tectum require the type IV collagen Dragnet. Nat Neurosci 10:1529-1537.

Mumm JS, Williams PR, Godinho L, Koerber A, Pittman AJ, Roeser T, Chien CB, Baier H, Wong RO (2006). In vivo imaging reveals dendritic targeting of laminated afferents by zebrafish retinal ganglion cells. Neuron 52:609-621.

Baraban SC, Taylor MT, Castro P, Baier (2005). PTZ-induced changes in zebrafish behavior, neural activity, and c-fos expression. Neuroscience 131:759-768.

Wehman A, Raymond PA, Baier H (2005). Genetic dissection of the zebrafish retinal stem-cell compartment. Dev Biol 281:53-65.

Kay JN, Link BA, Baier H (2005). Staggered, cell-intrinsic timing of ath5 expression underlies the wave of ganglion cell neurogenesis in the zebrafish retina. Development 132:2573-2585.

Hua Y, Smear MC, Baier H, Smith SJ (2005). Activity-based competition regulates axon growth in vivo. Nature 434:1022-1026

Xiao T, Roeser T, Staub W, Baier H (2005). A GFP-based genetic screen reveals mutations that disrupt the architecture of the zebrafish retinotectal projection. Development 132:2955-2967.

Orger MB, Baier H (2005). Channeling of red and green cone inputs to the zebrafish optomotor response. Vis Neurosci 22:275-281.

Gahtan E, Baier H (2005). Visual prey capture in larval zebrafish is controlled by two identified premotor neurons downstream of the tectum. J Neurosci 25:9294-9303.

Beis D, Bartman T, Jin SW, Scott IC, D'Amico LA, Ober EA, Verkade H, Frantsve J, Field HA, Wehman A, Baier H, Tallafuss A, Bally-Cuif L, Chen JN, Stainier DY, Jungblut B (2005). Genetic and cellular analyses of zebrafish atrioventricular cushion and valve development. Development 132:4193-4204.

Muto A, Orger MB, Wehman AM, Smear MC, Kay JN, Page-McCaw PS, Gahtan E, Xiao T, Nevin LM, Gosse NJ, Staub W, Finger-Baier KC, Baier H (2005). Forward genetic analysis of visual behavior in zebrafish. PLoS Genet 1:575-588.

Kay JN, Roeser T, Mumm JS, Godinho L, Mrejeru A, Wong RO, Baier H (2004). Transient requirement for ganglion cells in the assembly of retinal synaptic layers. Development 131:1331-1342.

Page-McCaw P, Chung SC, Muto A, Roeser T, Staub W, Finger-Baier KC, Korenbrot JI, Baier H (2004). Tyrosinase is required for retinal network adaptation to bright light. Nat Neurosci 7:1329-1336.

Kay JN, Baier H (2004). Out-Foxing fate: Molecular switches create neuronal diversity in the retina. Neuron 43:759-760.

Orger MB, Muto A, Smear MC, Gahtan E, Page-McCaw PS, Baier H (2004). Behavioral screening assays in zebrafish. Methods Cell Biol 77:53-68.

Roeser T, Baier H (2003). Visuomotor behaviors in larval zebrafish after GFP-guided ablation of the optic tectum. J Neuroscience 23:3726-3734.

Loosli F, Staub W, Finger-Baier KC, Ober E, Verkade H, Wittbrodt J, Baier H (2003). Loss of eyes in zebrafish caused by mutation of chokh/rx3. EMBO Reports 4:894-899.

Goldsmith P, Baier H, Harris WA (2003). Two zebrafish mutants, ebony and ivory, uncover benefits of neighborhood on photoreceptor survival. J Neurobiology 57:235-245.

Gahtan E, Baier H (2003). Of lasers, mutants, and see-through brains: Functional neuroanatomy in zebrafish. J Neurobiology 59:147-161.

Kay JN, Finger-Baier KC (co-first), Roeser T, Staub W, Baier H (2001). Retinal ganglion cell genesis requires lakritz, a zebrafish atonal homolog. Neuron 30:725-736.

Orger MB, Smear MC, Anstis SM, Baier H (2000). Perception of Fourier and non-Fourier motion by larval zebrafish. Nat Neurosci 3:1128–1133.

Baier H, Copenhagen D (2000). Combining physiology and genetics in the zebrafish retina. J Physiol 524:1.

Baier H (2000). Zebrafish on the move – Towards a behavior-genetic analysis of visual functions. Curr Opin Neurobiol 10:451-455.

Geisler R, Rauch GJ, Baier H, et mult. al (1999). A radiation hybrid map of the zebrafish genome. Nat Genet 23:86-89.

Neuhauss SCF., Biehlmaier O, Seeliger MW, Das T, Kohler K, Harris WA, Baier H (1999). Genetic disorders of vision revealed by a behavioral screen of four-hundred essential loci in zebrafish. J Neurosci 19:8603-8615.

Goodhill G, Baier H (1998). Axon guidance: Stretching gradients to the limit. Neural Comput 10:521-527.

Baier H (1998). Genetic approaches to axon pathfinding. In: Dahlem Conferences. Mechanistic Relationships Between Development and Learning: Beyond Metaphor (TJ Carew, R Menzel, CJ Shatz, eds.).

Voigt T, Baier H, de Lima A (1997). Synchronization of neuronal activity promotes survival of individual neocortical neurons in early development. Eur J Neurosci 9:990-999.

Baier H, Klostermann S, Trowe T, Karlstrom RO, Nüsslein-Volhard C, Bonhoeffer F (1996). Genetic dissection of the retinotectal projection. Development 123:415-425.

Karlstrom RO, Trowe T, Klostermann S, Baier H, Brand M, Crawford AD, Grunewald B, Haffter P, Hoffmann H, Meyer SU, Müller BK, Richter S, van Eeden FJM., Nüsslein-Volhard C, Bonhoeffer F (1996). Zebrafish mutations affecting retinotectal axon pathfinding. Development 123:427-438.

Trowe T, Klostermann S, Baier H, Granato M, Crawford AD, Grunewald B, Hoffmann H, Karlstrom RO, Meyer SU, Richter S, Nüsslein-Volhard C, Bonhoeffer F (1996). Mutations disrupting the ordering and topographic mapping of axons in the retinotectal projection of the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Development 123:439-450.

Baier H, Korsching S (1994). Olfactory glomeruli in the zebrafish form an invariant pattern and are identifiable across animals. J Neuroscience 14:219-230.

Baier H, Rotter S, Korsching S (1994). Connectional topography in the zebrafish olfactory system: random positions but regular spacing of sensory neurons projecting to an individual glomerulus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 91:11646-11650.

Baier H, Klostermann S (1994). Axon guidance and growth cone collapse in vitro. Neuroprotocols 4:96-105.

Baier H, Bonhoeffer F (1994). Attractive axon guidance molecules. Science 265:1541-1542.

Baier H, Bonhoeffer F (1992). Axon guidance by gradients of a target-derived component. Science 255:472-475.

Baier H, Bonhoeffer F (1991). Axon guidance in vitro by a target-derived cell membrane component. In: The Nerve Growth Cone (PC Letourneau et al., eds.), pp. 195-206, Raven: New York.