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Prof. Dr. med. Peter Schönknecht, MD, MA, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Research focus

  • Neurobiology of hypothalamic dysfunktion
  • Prediction of neurocognitive disorders across lifespan
  • Neurobiology of pedophilic and non-paraphilic offenders
  • Multidimentional prevention of recurrence in forensic psychiatry
  • Psychopathology and philosophy of mind

Official position

Medical Director, Academic Saxon State Hospital Arnsdorf b. Dresden and Psychiatric Hospital and Outpatient Clinics, Head, Outpatient Department, Prevention and Forensic Psychiatry, University Hospital Leipzig


Academic Saxon State Hospital Arnsdorf b. Dresden, Medical Faculty University of Leipzig

Business address

Hufelandstr. 15
01477 Arnsdorf

Academic education and degrees

1990 - 1996

Medicine and Philosophy, Universität Leipzig, Université de Montpellier, St. Barthelomew's Medical College London


​MD in Medicine, School of Medicine, Universität Leipzig


Dr. med. (summa cum laude) Universität Leipzig

​1999 - 2007

Residency and Fellowship in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (Prof. Dr. Ch. Mundt), Department of Neurology (Prof. Dr. Hacke), Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


​Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy


​Postdoctoral lecture qualification (venia legendi) and Habilitation in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Professor (apl.) of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Universität Leipzig


Professional career

​1996 - 1997

​Junior doctor (Arzt im Praktikum), Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Park-Krankenhaus Leipzig

1998 - 2005

Resident, senior resident and supervising psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Department of Neurology, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Research Fellow, Neuroscience PET Laboratory (Prof. Dr. M. S. Buchsbaum), The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York


​Clinical Geriatrics in Psychiatry (Fakultative Weiterbildung)

2006 - 2007

Memory Clinic, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


​Emergency Medicine (Zusatzbezeichnung)


​Forensic Psychiatry (Schwerpunktbezeichnung)

​2008 - 2016

​Deputy Department Head, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Leipzig
Supervising psychiatrist Affective Disorders Branch (Outpatient), Geriatric Psychiatry, Emergency Psychiatry


​Addiction Medicine (Zusatzbezeichnung Suchtmedizinische Grundversorgung)

2013 - 2017

​Postgraduate qualification Sexual Medicine
Research Fellow, Institut für Sexualmedizin, Charité Berlin

​since 2019

Medical Director, Academic Saxon State Hospital Arnsdorf b. Dresden and Physician-in-Chief, Psychiatric Hospital and Outpatient Clinics Head, Outpatient Department, Prevention and Forensic Psychiatry,  University Hospital Leipzig


Honors, awards and positions

​since 2010

​Head Research Group Subcortikal Dysfunction in Mental Disorders
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Leipzig

​2010 - 2016

​Steering Commitee Pharma-Cog
"Prediction of cognitive properties of new drug candidates
for neurodegenerative diseases in early clinical development"

​2009 - 2016

Research Fellow LIFE Study – Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases at the University of Leipzig


Research Fellow and Member, Steering Commitee Interdisziplinary Longitudinal Study of Adult Development (ILSE), Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Zertificate Lecturer „Hochschullehrer Baden-Württemberg"


Head HEICUMED Psychiatry im Reformstudiengang Medizin
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Research Fellow Competence Network Demenzen (BMBF)


Research Prize Alzheimer Forschung Initiative (AFI), 2005


Research Prize World Congress of Biological Psychiatry, 2001


​Prize Geschwister Boehringer Ingelheim Stiftung, 1999


​Grant University Studies Auslandsstipendium des DAAD, 1994


Current Journal Editorial positions 

Since 2014

GeroPsych – The Journal of Gerontopsychology and
Geriatric Psychiatry (Associate Editor)


10 most important peer-reviewed papers (10 out of 124, Scopus h-index: 33)

  1. Leitzke M, Schimpf S, Altrock M, Schönknecht P, Bischoff S, Schubert H, Hoyer D, Bauer R, Olbrich S. Afferent vagal stimulation via gastric electrical stimulation alters sympathetic-vagal balance in domestic pigs - a pilot trial. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2021;35(1) doi: 10.23812/20-527-A (online ahead)

  2. Polyakova M, Beyer F, Mueller K, Sander C, Witte V, Lampe L, Rodrigues F, Riedel-Heller S, Kratzsch J, Hoffmann KT, Villringer A, Schoenknecht P, Schroeter ML. Serum BDNF levels correlate with regional cortical thickness in minor depression: a pilot study. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):14524

  3. Thomas K, Beyer F, Lewe G, Zhang R, Schindler S, Schönknecht P, Stumvoll M, Villringer A, Witte AV. Higher body mass index is linked to altered hypothalamic microstructure. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):17373

  4. Schindler S, Schmidt L, Stroske M, Storch M, Anwander A, Trampel R, Strauß M, Hegerl U, Geyer S, Schönknecht P. Hypothalamus enlargement in mood disorders. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2019;139(1):56-67

  5. Wolff J, Schindler S, Lucas C, Binninger AS, Weinrich L, Schreiber J, Hegerl U, Möller HE, Leitzke M, Geyer S, Schönknecht P. A semi-automated algorithm for hypothalamus volumetry in 3 Tesla magnetic resonance images. Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2018;277:45-51

  6. Sabri O, Meyer PM, Gräf S, Hesse S, Wilke S, Becker GA, Rullmann M, Patt M, Luthardt J, Wagenknecht G, Hoepping A, Smits R, Franke A, Sattler B, Tiepolt S, Fischer S, Deuther-Conrad W, Hegerl U, Barthel H, Schönknecht P, Brust P. Cognitive correlates of α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in mild Alzheimer's dementia. Brain. 2018;141(6):1840-1854

  7. ​Schindler S, Schreiber J, Bazin PL, Trampel R, Anwander A, Geyer S, Schönknecht P. Intensity standardisation of 7T MR images for intensity-based segmentation of the human hypothalamus. PLoS One. 2017;12(3):e0173344

  8. Schoenknecht P, Olbrich S, Sander C, Spindler P, Hegerl U. Treatment of acute mania with modafinil monotherapy. Biol Psychiatry. 2010;67(11):e55-57

  9. Sabri O, Becker GA, Meyer PM, Hesse S, Wilke S, Graef S, Patt M, Luthardt J, Wagenknecht G, Hoepping A, Smits R, Franke A, Sattler B, Habermann B, Neuhaus P, Fischer S, Tiepolt S, Deuther-Conrad W, Barthel H, Schönknecht P, Brust P. First-in-human PET quantification study of cerebral α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors using the novel specific radioligand (-)-[(18)F]Flubatine. Neuroimage. 2015;118:199-208

  10. Schönknecht P, Pantel J, Kruse A, Schröder J. Prevalence and natural course of aging-associated cognitive decline in a population-based sample of young-old subjects. Am J Psychiatry. 2005;162(11):2071-2077

Foto: Thorsten Eckert

Semmelweisstraße 10, Haus 13
04103 Leipzig
0341 - 97 24539