Cluster of Excellence –
University of Freiburg

Top research grant for studies on cellular power plants

1.2 Million Euro for Nikolaus Pfanner, biochemist and molecular biologist of the University of Freiburg
Nikolaus Pfanner. Photo: Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie

The German Science Foundation has granted a Reinhart Koselleck Project to Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner to support his research on the biogenesis and architecture of the cellular power plants (mitochondria). The Koselleck programme enables outstanding researchers to perform highly innovative projects. The programme has been named after the famous historian Reinhart Koselleck, who died in 2006.

Mitochondria are essential for the energetics and metabolism of cells. Defects of mitochondria can lead to severe diseases of the nervous system, the heart and the kidney. ”This grant offers excellent opportunities for my team to study the multiple tasks of mitochondria in living cells,” Nikolaus Pfanner explains. “We will put a particular focus on proteins that perform several functions. Proteins are the active workers in cells and we found evidence that unexpectedly many proteins are multifunctional, i.e. have more than one job. With the Koselleck grant we will now define the impact of these hard-working proteins on cells and will study how defects of these proteins can lead to cellular disorders.”

Nikolaus Pfanner is Director at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Freiburg. He is a member of the BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies and of the Spemann Graduate School for Biology and Medicine. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the Max Planck Research Award, the Research Award of the State of Baden-Württemberg, the Otto Warburg Medal and the Stein and Moore Award (USA).


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