2016

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Although the terms “cryo-EM” and “SKI complex” evoke images of ice and snow, they actually relate to structural biology. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the Gene Center of the University of Munich (LMU) have now shown that the cellular protein factory and the SKI protein complex are in direct contact. The SKI complex is part of a molecular shredder that breaks down mRNA, the construction manual for proteins, into its individual components. To conduct their analysis, the researchers used cryo-electron microscopy, a technique that involves flash-freezing protein complexes to allow even the tiniest details of their structure to be studied in their natural state. more

Hannes Mutschler, Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried, together with Dora Tang and Moritz Kreysing from the MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, received 1.3 million euros in research funding from the Volkswagen Foundation. more

Naoko Mizuno from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried has been awarded funding of 900,000 euros over three years as part of the Plus 3 Perspective Programme of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation. The programme supports outstanding heads of junior research groups in the development of their research profiles with a view to obtaining a professorial appointment in the future. It also aims to improve the quality of basic medical research. more

Immunotherapy for cancer: identifying suitable target antigens by mass spectrometry. The immune system can fight specifically against cancer by tumor-specific T cells although suitable altered target structures are currently mostly unknown. A team at the the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed a method that allows for the first time the reliable identification of suitable antigens directly from patients` tumor cells by mass spectrometry. These structures proved to be immunogenic. This procedure therefore opens up new possibilities for individualized targeted cancer treatments. more

Dieter Oesterhelt, Emeritus Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, has been awarded the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. He received the highest accolade of the Free State of Bavaria for his outstanding scientific achievements, most notably his discovery of the light-sensitive pigment bacteriorhodopsin. This discovery and the deciphering of its function helped pave the way for today’s research field of optogenetics and later practical applications. “I’m delighted that my decades of hard work in science together with many highly motivated colleagues has been recognized,” Oesterhelt said. Unfortunately, he will be unable to attend the award ceremony for the Maximilian Order on 28 November 2016 due to illness. more

Julia von Blume has been named as the recipient of the Heisenberg grant of the German Research Foundation (DFG), for the duration of five years. She has also been given funding of € 900,000 as part of the Plus 3 Perspective Programme of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation. These highly coveted programmes provide outstanding researchers with support on their career path to becoming professors. more

The Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) mourns the loss of Departmental Director Stefan Jentsch, who unexpectedly died on 29 October. He received many awards for his fundamental contributions to our understanding of cellular regulation by the protein ubiquitin, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Council (DFG). “We have not only lost an outstanding scientist, but also a wonderful colleague“, says Petra Schwille, Managing Director at the MPIB. “Stefan’s untimely death leaves a void at the Institute as well as in the scientific community“. more

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