Universität Bonn

Institute for Physiology

Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow

University Professorship (W3) for Physiology

Institute of Physiology II at the Medical Faculty of the University of Bonn

Director of the Institute

Institute of Physiology II


Neuroscience Network ›iBehave‹

About the person

Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald has been Professor of Physiology and Head of the Institute of Physiology II at the Faculty of Medicine since January 1, 2022. She obtained her diploma in biology in 1999 at the Georg-August-University of Göttingen, after which she attended a graduate program at the renowned European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. In 2002, she received her PhD from the University of Heidelberg, which is listed among the top 100 universities worldwide in the QS World University Ranking. Both during her studies and later as a postdoctoral researcher, Prof. Grunwald spent extended periods abroad, including at the University of California in San Diego and UCLA in Los Angeles. In 2017, she followed the call of the Technical University of Munich and accepted the professorship for Neuronal Control of Metabolism. Previously, she had conducted valuable research as an independent group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Martinsried near Munich.

Her motivation lies in understanding how nervous systems enable humans and animals to adapt to the constant changes in their environment in the short and long term, thereby ensuring their survival and the survival of the next generation. As a model organism, she primarily uses Drosophila melanogaster, a special species of fruit fly. This is one of the best-studied organisms in the world. Prof. Grunwald uses it to study the basic genetic, synaptic and neuronal circuit mechanisms in order to transfer them to other organisms. Her main focus here is how the perception and neuronal processing of sensory impressions such as odors or tastes can be altered by physiological states such as hunger and the reproductive state. Prof. Grunwald has received several awards for her work, including the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society, the Career Development Award of the Human Frontiers Science Program, the EMBO Young Investigator Award, and the Dr. Heinrich Baur Award. She has also been awarded an Emmy Noether Group Leader Research Fellowship and an ERC Starting Grant. Prof. Grunwald has been a Henriette Heart Scout of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation since 2021.

Avatar Grunwald Kadow

Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow

Director, Institute of Physiology II

Institut für Physiologie II

Nussallee 11

53115 Bonn

+49 228 287 53202

Member of the board of reviewing editors at ›eLife‹

Faculty member of BIGS-Neuroscience PhD program

Faculty member of the LMU Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN)

 Member of TRA life and health

Member of Bonn Neurosciences (BCN)

Curriculum Vitae

since 2022
W3-Professor, Director of Institute of Physiology II, Medical Faculty, University of Bonn

2021 – 2022
W3-Professor, Department of Molecular Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Freising

2017 – 2021
W2 Professor (tenure-track) at the Technical University of Munich, Freising/Weihenstephan

2008 – 2018
Independent Max-Planck Research Group und Emmy-Noether Group leader at Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried

2003 – 2008
Postdoctoral research fellow, HHMI/University of California, Laboratory of Prof. SL Zipursky, Los Angeles, U.S.A.

1999 – 2002
Graduate student, international PhD program at EMBL and Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Laboratory of Prof. R Klein (graduated summa cum laude with Dr. rer. nat. from the University of Heidelberg)

1993 – 1999
Studies of Biology at the University of Göttingen, Germany and at the University of California, San Diego, U.S.A. (graduated with Diploma in Biology from the University of Göttingen)

  • Spokesperson of the neuroscience network ›iBehave‹
  • Member of the standing committee of the Max-Planck-Institute of Chemical Ecology
  • Member of the first board of the newly established European Drosophila Society (EDS)
  • Elected member of the Wellcome Trust - Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience Expert Review Group
  • Member of the board of reviewing editors at ›eLife‹
  • Advisory board member of Hcéres (independent government-funded agency) to evaluate the research unit BRAIN PLASTICITY, UMR 8249 at ESPCI in Paris, France
  • Vice chair (2022) and chair (2024) for Gordon research conference (GRC) ›Modulation of Neural Circuits and Behavior‹
  • Speaker at TEDxTUM conference 2018 ›Conscious Reflection‹, Munich, Germany
  • Mentor in 5 mentoring programs for women
  • Initiator and co-organizer of the public seminar series ›TUM@Freising – Wissenschaft erklärt für alle‹
  • Faculty member of BIGS-Neuroscience PhD program
  • Faculty member of the LMU Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN)
  • Faculty member and member of board of the International Max-Planck
  • Research School for Brain and Behavior (IMPRS-Brain and Behavior)
  • Member of TRA life and health
  • Member of Bonn Neurosciences (BCN)

Prizes and awards

Henriette-Herz-Scout of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation



Dr. Heinrich-Baur-Prize



ERC starting grant (started July 2015)



Boehringer Ingelheim Exploration grant



EMBO Young investigato



Member of AcademiaNet – database of excellent female scientists



Career Development award of the Human Frontiers Science Organization



Emmy Noether grant of the German Research Foundation



Human Frontiers Science Organization Long-term fellowship



EMBO Long-term fellowship



Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Societ




Immune receptor signaling and the mushroom body mediate post-ingestion pathogen avoidance

Kobler J, Rodriguez FJ, Petcu I, Grunwald Kadow IC

2020, Current Biology 30(23):4693-4709

Valence and state-dependent population coding in dopaminergic neurons in the fly mushroom body

Siju KP, Stih V, Aimon S, Gjorgjieva J, Portugues P, Grunwald Kadow IC

2020, Current Biology 30(11):2104-2115

A neural circuit arbitrates between perseverance and withdrawal in hungry Drosophila

Sayin S, De Backer JF, Wosniack ME, Lewis L, Siju KP, Frisch LM, Schlegel P, Edmondson-Stait A, Sharifi N, Fisher CB, Calle-Schuler S, Lauritzen S, Bock D, Costa M, Jefferis GSXE, Gjorgjieva J, Grunwald Kadow IC

2019, Neuron 104: 544–558

Inhibition of oxidative stress in cholinergic projection neurons fully rescues aging-associated olfactory circuit degeneration in Drosophila

Hussain A, Pooryasin A, Zhang M, Loschek LF, La Fortezza M, Friedrich AB, Blais CM, Üçpunar HK, Yépez YA, Lehmann M, Gompel N, Gagneur J, Sigrist SJ and Grunwald Kadow IC

2018, eLife 7:e32018

A higher brain circuit for immediate integration of conflicting sensory information in Drosophila

Lewis L, Siju KP, Aso Y, Friedrich AB, Bulteel AJB, Rubin GM, Grunwald Kadow IC

2015, Current Biology 25(17):2203-14

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