Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Protein design – A construction kit full of opportunities


It was a very successful application for Birte Höcker. The researcher from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology has now received an ERC Consolidator Grant and prize money of nearly 2 Million Euros from the European Research Council (ERC). She and her team can now follow up on new ideas about protein design, their scientific discipline.

Höcker, a biochemist, studies the evolution of proteins and uses her knowledge to construct new ones. She could already show that the diversity of proteins formed from smaller fragments, which led her to a new scientific approach: Use these parts and recombine them according to a construction kit. Fittingly, her ERC project application is called “Protein Lego”.

Dr. Birte Höcker

Jörg Abendroth / Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology

“With this project application we follow a completely new approach to protein design”, says Birte Höcker. “We identify stable fragments of well-known protein structures, recombine them, and so we see new complex and functional proteins coming to life.”

The scientist is fascinated by the composition of these essential proteins. “In the first place, the activity of proteins makes life possible”, states Höcker. “And I am particularly interested in all these little details of their structures – how they differ from each other and why they fold the way they do.”

The deeper understanding of protein structures can help to build tailor-made proteins for use in biotechnology, medicine and synthetic biology. Protein design has a broad application range, for example creating new enzymes for manufacturing fine chemicals or degrading toxic material, for new protein based drugs or even as biosensors as tools in basic research.

“Currently we focus primarily on the basics of this technology”, Höcker underlines. Together with her research group she wants to lay the foundation, so that tailor-made proteins for specific applications can be constructed in the near future.

The ERC Grants are the most coveted awards in the European research landscape. Each year the European Research Council supports upcoming scientists of any nationality with Consolidator Grants. The awardees have to carry out excellent research projects and should have finished their doctoral degree at least seven years ago.

About Birte Höcker:
Dr. Birte Höcker finished her doctoral degree in biochemistry in 2003 at the University of Cologne, before she worked as a postdoc at the Duke University Medical Center in the USA. Since 2006, she is an Independent Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany.

About us:
The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology conducts basic research in the fields of biochemistry, genetics and evolutionary biology. It employs about 360 people and is located at the Max Planck Campus in Tübingen. The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology is one of 83 research institutes that the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science maintains in Germany.

Weitere Informationen:

Nadja Winter | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Changing the Energy Landscape: Affordable Electricity for All
20.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Emmy Noether junior research group investigates new magnetic structures for spintronics applications
11.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>