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.
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.
Nadja Winter | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie
13.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Improving the understanding of death receptor functions in cells
07.11.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine
12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine