Background and activities

Research group

Neuroepigenetics - Base modifications in cognitive function


Research Interest

Genomic DNA is continuously challenged by endogenous and exogenous oxidative agents, thus preserving genomic integrity is a key for development and health. Base excision repair (BER) is the major pathway for removal of oxidized bases in the genome. BER is initiated by DNA glycosylases, recognizing and excising a broad range of base lesions. Several DNA glycosylases were identified as potential readers of epigenetic modifications and proteins involved in BER have been implicated in active DNA demethylation. Our recently published work revealed a function for DNA glycosylases beyond DNA repair in regulating gene expression related to adaptive behavior and cognition [Bjørge et al., Cell Reports, 2015] and in modulating the DNA methylome after myocardial infarction [Olsen et al., Cell Reports, 2017]  

The main focus of my research is to unravel the molecular mechanism and function of DNA glycosylases in epigenetic remodeling in brain, thus laying the basis for novel therapeutic strategies for brain-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. 


Group member

Former group member

  • Nicole Bethge, Postdoc
  • Silje Strømstad, Master student
  • Ana Beatriz Nùñez Nescolarde, Master student
  • Vishnu Vignesh Kanagaraj, PhD student
  • Paulina Schnur, Master student
  • Mirjam Cangonja, Master Student


Education and Positions

  • 2020 - present  Leader of the Neurobiology Laboratory, Neuroclinic, St. Olavs Hospital, and Associate Professor, Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s, Trondheim, Norway 
  • 2017 - 2019 Principal Investigator, Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s, Trondheim, Norway 
  • 2015 - 2017 Research Scientist, Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s, Trondheim, Norway 
  • 2011 - 2014 Postdoc, Department of Medical Biochemistry, Oslo University and Oslo University Hospital, Norway  
  • 2007 - 2010 PhD, Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory, University of Rostock, Germany
  • 2006 - 2007 Research assistant, Institute of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research, University of Marburg, Germany
  • 2001- 2006 Diploma in Biochemistry, Institute of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Greifswald, Germany


Fellowships, Grants and Awards

  • 2021 - 2022 Research Project Fund from Felles Forskningsutvalg (St. Olavs Hospital and Faculty of Medicine at NTNU)
  • 2019 - 2021 Project Fund from the Health Authority of Central Norway (HMN and NTNU), Norway
  • 2018 - 2020 Young Research Talents grant from the Norwegian Research Council
  • 2017 - 2019 Research grant from the Health Authority of Central Norway (HMN and NTNU), Norway
  • 2007 - 2010 PhD student scholarship from the State Mecklenburg-Western Pemerania, Germany


Selected Publications

Hildrestrand GA,  Rolseth V, Kunath N, Suganthan R, Jensen V, Bugaj AM, Fernandez-Berrocal MS, Sikko SB, Vetlesen S, Kuśnierczyk A, Olsen AK, Gützkow KB, Rowe AD, Wang W, Moldestad O, Syrstad M, Slupphaug G, Eide L, Klungland A, Sætrom P, Luna L, Ye J, Scheffler K* & Bjørås M*. (2021). NEIL1 and NEIL2 DNA glycosylases modulate anxiety and learning in a cooperative manner in mice. Communications biology, 4(1):1354.

Scheffler K, Jalland C, Benestad S, Moldal T, Ersdal C, Gunnes G, Suganthan R, Bjørås M, Tranulis M. (2020). DNA glycosylase Neil2 contributes to genomic responses in the spleen during clinical prion disease. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 152:348-354. 

Scheffler K, Bjørås KØ, Bjørås M. (2019). Diverse functions of DNA glycosylases processing oxidative base lesions in brain. DNA repair, 81:102665.

Olsen MB*, Hildrestrand GA*, Scheffler K*, Vinge LE, Alfsnes K, Palibrk V, Wang J, Neurauter CG, Luna L, Johansen J, Øgaard JD, Ohm IK, Slupphaug G, Kuśnierczyk A, Fiane AE, Brorson SH, Zhang L, Gullestad L, Louch WE, Iversen PO, Østlie I, Klungland A, Christensen G, Sjaastad I, Sætrom P, Yndestad A, Aukrust P, Bjørås M, Finsen AV (2017). NEIL3-Dependent Regulation of Cardiac Fibroblast Proliferation Prevents Myocardial Rupture. Cell Reports, 18(1):82-92.

Bjørge MD*, Hildrestrand GA*, Scheffler K*, Suganthan R, Rolseth V, Kuśnierczyk A, Rowe AD, Vågbø CB, Vetlesen S, Eide L, Slupphaug G, Nakabeppu Y, Bredy TW, Klungland A, Bjørås M (2015). Synergistic Actions of Ogg1 and Mutyh DNA Glycosylases Modulate Anxiety-like Behavior in Mice. Cell Reports, 13(12):2671-8. 

Strand JM*, Scheffler K*, Bjørås M, Eide L (2014). The distribution of DNA damage is defined by region-specific susceptibility to DNA damage formation rather than repair differences. DNA repair (Amst), 18:44-51.

Scheffler K, Krohn M, Dunkelmann T, Stenzel J, Hofrichter J, Lange C, Ibrahim S, Walker LC, Pahnke J, (2012) Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms specifically modify cerebral β-amyloid proteostasis. Acta Neuropathologica, 124(2):199-208.

Krohn M, Lange C, Hofrichter J, Scheffler K, Stenzel J, Steffen J, Schumacher T, Brüning T, Plath AS, Alfen F, Schmidt A, Winter F, Rateitschak K, Wree A, Gsponer J, Walker LC, Pahnke J, (2011). Cerebral amyloid-b proteostasis is regulated by the membrane transport protein ABCC1 in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 121(10):3924-3931.

* Authors contribute equally to the work

Full list of publication