Thomas Wollert is EMBO Young Investigator
When the refuse disposal service goes on strike, heaps of trash will pile up on streets and attract vermin like mice and rats. In a similar way, a cellular waste management system constantly picks up superfluous proteins and damaged organelles in human cells and delivers them to recycling facilities. However, if the cellular waste management system stops working, severe illnesses like Alzheimer´s disease or cancer may develop. Thomas Wollert and his team investigate an important recycling system of the cell: the autophagic system. It captures cellular waste and delivers it to specialized recycling facilities, called lysosomes. Thus autophagy protects the cell from accumulating cell debris. “With the financial support from EMBO, we want to decode one of the most complex steps during the formation of autophagosomes,” says Thomas Wollert. “The core of the project is the question of how cells manage to specifically separate surplus or damaged material and degrade them via autophagy.”
The EMBO Young Investigator Program was launched in 2000 in order to honor and support the best European young scientists in molecular biology.