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 TIB advances implementation of transition towards Open Access in high energy physics
13.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

nachricht Additional 5 Million Euro Funding for Aging Research in Jena, Germany
09.03.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>