Cluster of Excellence –
University of Freiburg

Arthur-Lüttringhaus Prize for Melika Sarem

The Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy has awarded Arthur-Lüttringhaus Prize for the best doctoral dissertation to Melika Sarem, who completed her PhD in laboratory of Prof. V. Prasad Shastri, BIOSS Professor of Cell Signaling Environments, at Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry.
Photo: Weihai Zhang

During her PhD she has worked on multidisciplinary project in the intersection of physical chemistry, materials science and developmental biology with a translational component. In her doctoral work entitled “Role of intrinsically disordered phosphoprotein secondary structure in bone biomineralization and impact of biomimetic apatite on endochondral ossification”, Melika has worked on understating how bone mineral phase impacts human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) fate.

In her doctoral work Melika first developed a biomimetic assembly system to understand how the secondary structure of mammalian and avian phosphoproteins impacts nucleation and growth of biomimetic bone like apatite, and then using this system she focused on unraveling how this biomimetic apatite impacts MSCs fate. She has shown that biomimetic bone like apatite stimulates extracellular calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) in MSCs and over stimulation of this receptor blocks endochondral ossification and strictly promotes formation of bone via intramembranous ossification in MSCs.

Melika defended her thesis on September 2017 and her doctoral work has resulted in several first author publications in highly prestigious journals including Advanced Materials and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – USA, which were highlighted in several press releases. Melika’s research impact in orthopedic tissue engineering and regenerative medicine has also been recently recognized by orthoregeneration network (ON) via ON/EORS education scholarship.

Melika's doctoral work was supported by several funding agencies including The Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments Grant EXC 294 through BIOSS Centre for Biological Signaling Studies, the Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht through the Helmholtz Virtual Institute on Multifunctional Biomaterials for Medicine and Swiss National Foundation-Sinergia Grant (Nr. CRSII3_136179).