Research Groups

Welcome to the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
The Institute was founded in 2009 as part of the Cluster of Excellence Frankfurt Macromolecular Complexes (CEF). We aim at understanding macromolecular complexes, in particular the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular functions. The Institute is composed of fifteen scientific groups from various disciplines including biology, physics, chemistry, and medicine. We are dedicated to perform basic research with biomedical relevance, to train young scientists, and to develop cutting-edge technologies in the life sciences.


7 June 2023

When the cell digests itself: How inherited neurodegenerative diseases develop

Our cells are crisscrossed by a system of membrane tubes and pockets called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). It is crucial for the production of biomolecules and is continuously built up and degraded. Degradation, known as ER-phagy, is promoted by the protein ubiquitin, which controls many processes in the cell. If the proteins involved in ER-phagy are defective, neurodegenerative diseases result. This has been discovered by an international research team led by Goethe University Frankfurt (as part of the EMTHERA research cluster) and Jena University Hospital and published in two papers in the renowned journal Nature.


30 May 2023

All-optical closed-loop voltage clamp for precise control of muscles and neurons in live animals

Identifying connections between distinct neurons and their contribution to driving behaviour is a central issue in neuroscience. To explore such relations, methods to record and concurrently regulate neural activity are needed. Excitable cells can be stimulated or inhibited by optogenetics. Since optogenetic actuation regimes are often static, neurons and circuits can quickly adapt, allowing perturbation, but not true control. A team of scientists now managed to develop an optogenetic voltage-clamp (OVC).


26 May 2023

Puzzle around a protein - Researchers from Frankfurt and Ulm provide important insights into the rare PURA Syndrome

Computational biologist Kathi Zarnack investigates what happens in the cells of patients with PURA Syndrome, a genetically determined neurodevelopmental disorder. In a study conducted jointly with Dierk Niessing at the University of Ulm, she has now come a significant step closer to solving the mystery. The study showed that the regulation and quality control of messenger RNAs in the cells were affected. Their findings about molecular and cellular networks could provide approaches to future therapy studies for the hitherto incurable disease.


03 February 2023

Ivan Ðikic receives Swiss Louis-Jentet Prize for Medicine

Congratulations to Ivan Đikić for receiving the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for his contributions to research into the ubiquitin system, one of the cell’s central regulatory systems. The award will be bestowed on Đikić and his cooperation partner Brenda Schulman from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, near Munich. The Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine is one of the most prestigious awards for biomedical research and is endowed with 500,000 Swiss Francs (about 500,000 Euros). - (photo by Uwe Dettmar)


30 September 2022

Unibator innovation award for Marcel Walther and Felix Rohde

Congratulations to Marcel Walther and Felix Rohde from the Windbergs group for winning the first price of the Unibator Innovation Award. This award honours scientific projects with start-up potential.


28 September 2022

Sino-German MegaSyn Symposium 2022
“Metabolic and megaenzyme engineering for the biosynthesis of lipids and natural compounds"(October 10th to 12th in Frankfurt am Main, Germany)

A major aim of the Symposium is to highlight the latest, cutting-edge discoveries in the fields of metabolic and multienzyme engineering, protein analysis and natural compound discovery. The Symposium takes place at the Riedberg Campus of the University (Biocenter, lecture hall B2).
Participation in the conference is free of charge (no conference fees). The Symposium is designed as hybrid conference - zoom links are available upon request.


08 August 2022

Novel strategy to introduce fluorine into complex polyketides during biosynthesis

Over 90 percent of pharmaceutical drugs on the market today are small organic molecules and among those, natural products are highly represented. Fluorination has been widely used in medicinal chemistry for lead structure optimization. About a quarter of all small molecule drugs contain at least one fluorine atom, including the antidepressant Prozac, the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor and the quinolone antibiotic Ciprobay. Applications of organofluorine chemistry towards natural product biosynthesis are rare due to the paucity of enzymes that catalyse the addition of F atoms in secondary metabolism. Thus, new methods that enable fluorine derivatization are urgently needed to bridge the gap between the inherent bioactivity of a natural compound and its development as a therapeutic agent.


11 April 2022

LOEWE-Exploration funding for BMLS researchers: Nanobodies as a new approach for biological control of mosquitoes, bark beetles and other pests

For their unconventional approach for a biological control of insect pests, Frederic Strobl and Ernst H.K. Stelzer received a 277.000 Euro grant as part of the HMWK’s LOEWE-Exploration funding line. The "Barquito" project aims to lay the methodological foundation for the usage of nanobodies, i.e. small antibodies that derive from alpacas, to reduce the fertility of specific insect pests.


4 February 2022

Carcinogenesis: important findings on intracellular signal transmission

Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGF-β) is a signalling protein whose dysregulation can cause developmental disorders and cancer. Dr Xinlai Cheng and his colleagues at the Goethe University Frankfurt have discovered how a tumour suppressor known as pVHL influences signal transmission involving TGF-β. Their findings suggest possible starting points for developing new drugs.


12 January 2022

Harald Schwalbe appointed as new instruct-ERIC director

Instruct-ERIC has appointed Harald Schwalbe as its new Director, succeeding Sir David Stuart in the role. Integrated structural biology has demonstrated its innovative power in a breath-taking manner in recent years, notably with impressive technological advances. As a European distributed research infrastructure, Instruct-ERIC has been at the forefront of this technological innovation, with centres across the continent providing access to advanced structural biology equipment and techniques.


12 November 2021

A comprehensive review on light sheet fluorescence microscopy

Light sheet microscopes reduce phototoxicity to such an extent that completely new experiments become possible. This technology is one of the cornerstones of the BMLS-hosted Frankfurt Centre for Advanced Light Microscopy. In their recent Nature Reviews Methods Primer, which is directed at newcomers and experts alike, Ernst Stelzer and Frederic Strobl discuss the history, technical background, applications and future trends of this technology together with international colleagues.


8 July 2021

Volkswagen Foundation funds two new SARS-CoV-2 research projects

The Target-RNA-antiV project will investigate how the gene regulation of the virus can be specifically disrupted (in collaboration with TU Darmstadt). The CoVmacro project will investigate how the viral protein nsP3 can be blocked (together with RWTH Aachen, LMU Munich and Forschungszentrum Jülich). The projects will be supported for 36 months each.


5 July 2021

EMBO postdoctoral fellowship for Santosh Kumar Kuncha

Santosh Kumar Kuncha was awarded with one of the prestigious Research Fellowships from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), which enable doctoral researchers from abroad to pursue their postdoctoral research in Europe and around the world. The proposed project focuses on understanding the molecular consequences of a unique Legionella-specific post-translational modification, called phosphoribosyl-ubiquitination (PR-Ub), of the human host proteome.


28 May 2021

Applications of heterobifunctional chemicals in cell biology

New finding by the Cheng group and collaborators demonstrate that SF3B1 is PROTACable by utilizing noninhibitory chemicals. They further report that a proteome-wide analysis of PROTAC-FCPF-mediated Cas9FCPF protein degradation suggested a wide range of applications of perfluoroaromatics-induced proximity in the regulation of stability, activity, and functionality of any FCPF-tagging protein.


6 May 2021

A look behind the scenes of the physical biology lab at BMLS

In a second beautiful new video describing the work of research groups in the Buchmann Institut this year, the Stelzer group provides an introduction to their work. The video was produced by the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in the context of the Giersch - Summerschool & International Conference 2021.


30 March 2021

Molecular basis for recovery after neuronal lesion

The ability of the brain to adapt to its environment (its “plasticity”) is absolutely essential for its proper development and function. It is therefore essential to understand how the brain can adapt - and why it sometimes fails to do so. Scientists at Goethe University Frankfurt have now uncovered a molecular interaction that supports plasticity after a neuronal lesion. This interaction can promote neuronal recovery when stimulated - a discovery that opens up new therapeutic perspectives.


30 March 2021

Interview with Ernst Stelzer available online

In a podcast, Ernst Stelzer talks with The Microscopists about why scientists need to be able to take risks in their research, how he also worries about pursuing the right research, and how problems should be seen as opportunities.


16 March 2021

SR proteins as regulators of alternative transcript ends

Scientists from Frankfurt identify the SR proteins SRSF3 and SRSF7 as important drivers of alternative polyadenylation in pluripotent mouse cells.


5 March 2021

A look behind the scenes of the electron microscopy lab at BMLS

In a beautiful new video, PhD students of the Frangakis group provide an introduction to their work. The video was produced by the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in the context of the Giersch - Summerschool & International Conference 2021.


8 February 2021

PROXIDRUGS successful in Clusters4Future competition

The PROXIDRUGS consortium has been selected for funding within the Clusters4Future initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which aims at promoting regional innovation networks for the benefit of economy and society. PROXIDRUGS will be funded with up to 15 M € for the next three years, as only one of 7 clusters selected for funding from a total of 137 applications. The consortium concentrates on developing new treatments for diseases with high unmet medical need by utilizing the new concept of proximity induction in drug design.


8 February 2021

The State of Hesse funds research network on inflammation and infection

Frankfurt scientists were successful in securing funding for the ENABLE cluster project which aims at identifying disease-relevant key targets and enabling innovative therapeutic strategies. For the next four years, the project will be supported with 8 M€ by the State of Hesse as part of the cluster initiative to prepare for the next round of the federal Excellence Strategy. The ENABLE research program is centered around inflammation, infection and cellular homeostasis, which are all impacting on a broad range of diseases, many of them with high unmet medical need.



3 December 2020

DFG extends Collaborative Research Centre “Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms in Neural Homeostasis”

The Collaborative Research Centre 1080 was successful in the German Research Foundation’s current round of approvals and will start its third funding period in 2021. The DFG is providing € 2 million per year for four years of research. In the CRC 1080, scientists from different disciplines investigate how the brain and nervous system maintain stability as a complex system while also remaining accessible and flexible.




23 November 2020

Ivan Dikic honoured as Highly Cited Researcher 2020

For the third year in a row, Ivan Dikic is recognized as one of the pioneers in his field on Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers list. His research publications rank in the top 1% by citations in the field of “Molecular Biology and Genetics”.




23 October 2020

Development of novel vaccines: Goethe University founding team receives federal funding

Two young chemists at Goethe University want to develop highly effective vaccines using the carrier protein dodecine. To develop their idea into a product, the young scientists receive funding from the GO-Bio initial programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.




15 October 2020

BMLS partner in US$ 7.2 million research project on Parkinson’s disease - Scientists investigate how mutations in the LRRK2 gene trigger Parkinson’s disease and what possible targets there are for drugs

About ten percent of Parkinson’s cases can be ascribed to mutations in the LRRK2 gene. Five research teams from the University of California in San Diego, Goethe University Frankfurt and the University of Konstanz want to explain in the next few years how mutations in the LRRK2 gene trigger Parkinson’s disease and what possible targets there are for drugs. The US-American initiative “Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s” has made the funding available for this project.




30 September2020

Substance with new mode of action against cancer: PROTAC-mediated degradation reveals a non-catalytic function of AURORA-A kinase

Researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt and the University of Würzburg have developed a new compound for treating cancer. It destroys a protein that triggers its development. The results of their work have now been published in the latest issue of Nature Chemical Biology.




5 August 2020

Double-hit therapeutic strategy against COVID-19 - Molecular differences between SARS and SARS-CoV-2

When the SARS-CoV-2 virus penetrates human cells, it lets the human host cell produce proteins for it. One of these viral proteins, called PLpro, is essential for the replication and rapid spread of the virus. An international team of researchers led by Goethe University and University Hospital Frankfurt has now discovered that the pharmacological inhibition of this viral enzyme not only blocks virus replication but also strengthens the anti-viral immune response at the same time (Nature, DOI 10.1038/s41586-020-2601-5).




9 July 2020

Awards for best BMLS theses 2019 go to Maja Klaus from the Grininger group and Dennis Vettkötter from the Gottschalk group

Maja Klaus won the Josef Buchmann Doctoral Excellence Award for her PhD thesis on “Engineering of modular polyketide synthases” and Dennis Vettkötter won the Josef Buchmann Master Excellence Award for his master thesis “Development of optogenetic tools for clustering of synaptic vesicles”.




9 July 2020

Congratulations to Enrico Schleiff on his election as President of Goethe University Frankfurt

Enrico Schleiff was elected President of Goethe University Frankfurt by the extended Senate on Wednesday 8 July. The term of office is six years and will begin on 1 January 2021.




8 July 2020

DFG approves new research training group for image analysis in the life sciences

Modern microscopy techniques provide fascinating insights into tissues, cells and even large molecules. However, the data sets are now so large that advanced knowledge in image analysis is needed to interpret them. This will now be provided by an interdisciplinary research training group at Goethe University, located at the interface of life sciences and computer science. The project will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for the next 4.5 years.




7 July 2020

X-ray structure analysis gives detailed insights into molecular factory - How do bacteria build up natural products?

The active agents of many drugs are natural products, so called because often only microorganisms are able to produce the complex structures. Similar to the production line in a factory, large enzyme complexes put these active agent molecules together. A team of scientists from Goethe University Frankfurt and Technical University of Munich has now succeeded in investigating the basic mechanisms of one of these molecular factories.




19 June 2020

Structure and mechanism of the adhesion complex from the human pathogen Mycoplasma genitalium

Mycoplasma genitalium is a human pathogen adhering to host target epithelial cells and causing urethritis, cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease. Essential for infectivity is its transmembrane adhesion complex called Nap. Together with colleagues in Barcelona, BMLS scientists investigated the structure and mechanism of the Nap adhesion complex and revealed an intricate interplay between its components.




9 June 2020

New consortium EUbOPEN will provide tools to unlock disease biology

June 2020. The new EUbOPEN consortium aims to develop high quality chemical tool compounds for 1,000 proteins (one third of the druggable proteins in the human body). It will enable unencumbered access to these research tools, thereby empowering academia and industry alike to explore disease biology and unlock the discovery of new drug targets and treatments.




17 February 2020

PROXIDRUGS project led by Goethe University included in "Clusters4Future" programme

February 2020. PROXIDRUGS, the regional network led by Goethe University, aims at developing active molecules for selective intervention, opening new therapeutic avenues. Within the “Clusters4Future” ideas competition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has now selected the project for funding in the concept phase – as one of 16 finalists out of 137 proposals submitted.




12 February 2020

How roots find their way to water

February 2020. Plants use their roots to search for water. While the main root digs downwards, a large number of fine lateral roots explore the soil on all sides. As researchers from Nottingham, Heidelberg and Goethe University of Frankfurt report in the current issue ofl "Nature Plants", the lateral roots already "know" very early on where they can find water.




24 October 2019

How cells prevent the translation of faulty mRNAs

October 2019. Scientists from Frankfurt and Mainz identify the RNA-binding E3 ubiquitin ligase Makorin Ring Finger Protein 1 (MKRN1) as a novel player in ribosome-associated quality control (RQC) against poly(A) translation.




17 September 2019

The sleep neuron in C. elegans is also a stop neuron

September 2019. The nervous system of the threadworm C. elegans is simple at first sight: it consists of 302 neurons, some of which, however, have several functions. The neuron “RIS”, known as a sleep neuron, can therefore put the worm into a long sleep – or also just briefly stop its locomotion, as a group of scientists led by Goethe University have now discovered.




25 July 2019

Surprising insight into Legionnaires' disease

July 2019. In order to control cellular processes and thwart the immune system, the bacterium Legionella pneumophilia, the cause of the notorious Legionnaires' disease, releases hundreds of enzymes. Biochemists at Goethe University have now elucidated important details of the interaction of bacterial effectors. They discovered how the regulatory enzyme SidJ keeps other dangerous virulence factors in check.




19 July 2019

RNA structure impacts interaction with proteins

July 2019. RNA is involved in many cellular processes such as control of gene expression, catalysis of various substrates, scaffolding of complex assemblies, and molecular chaperoning. The combination of high-throughput sequencing and in vivo crosslinking approaches gradually enables scientists to uncover of the complex interdependence between the cellular transcriptome and the proteome.




10 July 2019

A tug of war: how Salmonella tackles cellular defense mechanisms

July 2019. Bacterial pathogens present a major public health concern, especially given the increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains. As such, understanding the molecular details governing bacterial infection is of prime importance. A group of researchers from the Dikic group at Goethe University and the group of Danielle Malo at McGill University (Canada) recently joined forces and this month published a first collaborative article in the journal Nature Microbiology. Their study focuses on non-typhoidal Salmonella infections caused by Salmonella Typhimurium, a food-borne bacterial pathogen that infects the intestinal tract.




26 June 2019

1st BMLS Career & Alumni Day

June 2019. Our 1st BMLS Career & Alumni day, organized by the representatives of the PhD students and postdocs, took place on 26 June 2019. In the morning, members of the BMLS and FIAS research groups came together to join a job application workshop. This was followed by individual CV coaching sessions in the afternoon. Both sessions were led by the professional career coach Andrew Cerniski from Heidelberg.




26 June 2019

BMLS scientist wins PhD award

June 2019. Frederic Strobl from the research group of Ernst Stelzer at the Buchmann Institute of Molecular Life Sciences has been awarded the "Preis der Vereinigung von Freunden und Förderern für den Naturwissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs", which comes with 10 000 Euro of prize money. The award ceremony took place on 25 June 2019.




26 June 2019

High school students visit BMLS

June 2019. As part of its outreach activities, CEF and the Buchmann Institute for Life Sciences (BMLS) host every year high school students to introduce them to research in the life sciences research.




21 June 2019

Frankfurt scientists win funding for a LOEWE research cluster on multi-scale modelling in the life sciences

June 2019. Organisms are incredibly complex and dynamic, especially at the cellular and molecular level. Only mathematical modelling will help us to fully understand how such biological systems function and why certain diseases occur.




5 June 2019

BMLS Josef Buchman Awards Ceremony 2019

June 2019. BMLS celebrated the achievements of its young scientists with the presentation of the BMLS Josef Buchman Awards.
BMLS Director Prof. Enrico Schleiff welcomed the guests and in particular the Buchmann family, who are the great benefactors of the Institute, and Prof. Jürgen Bereiter-Hahn, who played a crucial role in the founding of the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences.




28 May 2019

A chemical toolbox for the study of epigenetic signaling

May 2019. Genetic and epigenetic variation, as well as environmental and lifestyle factors, work in concert to influence human health and disease. In recent years, the essential role of epigenetic modifications in regulating gene expression and cellular differentiation has emerged. Apart from changes in DNA methylation, covalent post-translational modifications of histones and other nuclear proteins define a complex language, the epigenetic code, which regulates chromatin structure and dynamics.




17 April 2019

Ivan Dikic elected a member of American Academy

April 2019. Today, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the election of its new members for 2019. Amongst them is IBC2 director Ivan Dikic.

Since 1780, the Academy has regularly been electing new members to recognize their outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, business, philanthropy, and public affairs, in line with founders’ vision "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." Academy members are world leaders and represent the most innovative thinkers in their fields. Amongst them are more than 250 Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners.




5 April 2019

New EU project at BMLS

April 2019. The new project &qout;Bioprinting by light sheet lithography: engineering complex tissues with high resolution at high speed&qout; (BRIGHTER) will be funded by the prestigious and highly selective Future and Emerging Technologies EU programme (FET Open, part of Horizon 2020). The EU will support this three year project with a grant of 3,450,000 € of which 700,000 € will go to the Physical Biology Group of the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Goethe University. The consortium of BRIGHTER includes Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany), IBEC (Barcelona, Spain, consortium coordinators), Technion (Haifa, Israel) as well as the companies Cellendes (Reutlingen, Germany) and Mycronic (Täby, Sweden).




1 April 2019

Helge Bode awarded ERC Advanced Grant / SYNPEP - Project reprograms natural peptides as drugs

April 2019. Many clinically used drugs are peptides, which are often produced by microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi. They include important antibiotics such as vancomycin, daptomycin and penicillin, immune suppressors such as cyclosporine, and anti-cancer drugs such as bleomycin. To alter these peptides, the enzymes producing them have to be reprogrammed. This also allows the production of non-natural peptides which do not occur in nature and which might have beneficial or superior properties compared to the original peptide.




20 March 2019

CRISPR/Cas libraries open new avenues in cancer research

March 2019. CRISPR/Cas enables the targeted deactivation of genes by cutting DNA at pre-determined sites. This is accomplished by providing the Cas enzyme with a genetic zip code. By using an entire library of zip codes it becomes possible to simultaneously probe multiple sites within the genome, for example to determine which genes are essential for cancer cell survival. This could revolutionize drug discovery.




29 January 2019

Plant-specific ribosome biogenesis factors

January 2019. Ribosomes are the protein factories of the cell and thus essential to life. They are large multi-component complexes that consist of ribonucleic acids (rRNA) and proteins. The biogenesis of ribosomes is only partly understood. It is a highly complicated process coordinated by many biogenesis factors as the pre-ribosomal subunits acquire maturity on their route from the cell nucleolus to the cytoplasm.




28 January 2019

BoTox toxin turned into a precision research tool

January 2019. Regulated secretion is critical for diverse biological processes ranging from immune and endocrine signaling to synaptic transmission. Botulinum and tetanus neurotoxins, which specifically destroy vesicle fusion proteins involved in regulated secretion, have been widely used as experimental tools to block these processes. Genetic expression of these toxins in the nervous system has been a powerful research approach for disrupting neurotransmitter release within defined circuitry, but their current utility in brain research and elsewhere remains limited by lack of spatial and temporal control.




29 November 2018

Three BMLS members are among the most highly cited researchers worldwide

November 2018. This year's international list of Highly Cited Researchers includes three members of BMLS. Now in its fifth year, the citation analysis conducted by the "Web of Science" company Clarivate Analytics identifies influential researchers as determined by their peers around the globe - those who have consistently won recognition in the form of high citation counts over a decade. Ivan Dikic, Stefan Knapp and Ernst Stelzer are among those listed for their exceptional performance in the category "Cross-Field", based on their high impact papers published across several fields.




16 November 2018

BMLS Josef Buchmann Awards Ceremony - Several scholarships and prizes awarded to young scientists

November 2018. The generous benefactors of BMLS, the Buchmann family, donated several scholarships and awards for young scientists at BMLS. The ceremony held on 15 November 2018 at BMLS honored the young researchers working at the institute and their achievements. Over 120 PhD students and postdocs currently conduct research at BMLS into how cells and cellular networks function on a molecular level. They help with their research to lay foundations for applications such as the development of new medical drugs.




8 November 2018

4th BMLS Symposium

November 2018. Nathalie Jung (Maike Windbergs lab) and Olga Tschesnokowa (Amparo Acker-Palmer lab) were awarded for the best talk and the best poster presentation during the 4th BMLS Symposium.

Students and postdocs met at the 4th BMLS symposium on 8 November 2018 for what is also called the "non-supervised" symposium, an informal appointment where they could share and discuss their own research without supervisors. The event should encourage interdisciplinary peer-discussions, and enable connections within different fields and other colleagues. Moreover, this year students from FIAS joined the initiative, and four international speakers enriched the program.

The lecture hall was well-filled with more than seventy attendees, where international invited speakers gave talks alternating with student and postdoc speakers. In-between breaks made room for a poster-and-pizza session and poster discussions over coffee.




2 November 2018

Regulation of food-related behaviour by dopamine and neuropeptides may have been conserved during evolution

November 2018. How does the nervous system motivate us to get up from our sofa and walk to the fridge, or even to the supermarket, to get food? Finding food and remaining at a food source are crucial survival strategies. How do nerve cells exactly communicate with each other to achieve such complex behaviours and how has this evolved? A team of researchers led by Alexander Gottschalk from Goethe University Frankfurt investigated how external food signals are turned into behaviour on a molecular, cellular and neuronal circuit level. Their findings, using the worm C. elegans as a model, provide important clues for the evolution of foraging behaviour in higher animals.




24 October 2018

Achilleas Frangakis appointed BMLS Vice Director

October 2018. Achilleas Frangakis, BMLS Group Leader since 2011 has been appointed BMLS Vice Director as of 10th October 2018 by BMLS Director Enrico Schleiff.




22 October 2018

Expanding the optogenetics toolkit

October 2018.Controlling individual brain cells using light-sensitive proteins has proven to be a powerful tool for probing the brain's complexities. As this branch of neuroscience has expanded, so has the demand for a diverse palette of protein tools.




8 October 2018

Ivan Dikic appointed as Max Planck Fellow

October 2018. As announced by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biophysics today, IBC2 Director Ivan Dikic has been appointed as Fellow of the Max Planck Society and will start his 5-year-term immediately, including supervision of a small working group at the Frankfurt-based Institute. The Max Planck Fellow Program has been set up to strengthen cooperation between outstanding university professors and Max Planck Society researchers.




21 September 2018

A new piece in the puzzle of neuronal locomotion control

September 2018. Scientists deciphered the function of an important class of motor neurons in a model species.

Many aspects of the neuronal control of basic behaviours are not yet understood. One big question is for example how the highly complex locomotion circuits of humans and other vertebrates operate in detail. As movements are regulated by neuronal circuits that share similar properties in a wide variety of species, including humans, scientists can use other species as models. Vertebrates even share similar principles with invertebrates despite their different locomotion and anatomy of neural circuits. The relative simplicity of invertebrate nervous systems has helped to develop concepts that guide our understanding of how more complex neuronal networks operate.



23 August 2018

Blood vessels instruct brain development - Neurovascular communication in the brain

August 2018. Function and homeostasis of the brain relies on communication between the complex network of cells, which compose this organ. Consequently, development of the different groups of cells in the brain needs to be coordinated in time and space. The group of Amparo Acker-Palmer (Buchmann Institute of Molecular Life Sciences and the Institute of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Goethe University) reported in a Research Article in the last issue of the journal Science a novel function of blood vessels in orchestrating the proper development of neuronal cellular networks in the brain.



17 August 2018

Disclosing the hidden layer of splicing-effective mutations in cancer

August 2018. Frankfurt scientists together with scientists from the IMB Mainz decode the alternative splicing of the proto-oncogene RON with a high-throughput mutagenesis screen.

Braun et al., Nature Communications



17 August 2018

Jasmin Hefendehl joins the BMLS

August 2018. In September, Jasmin Hefendehl and her team will join BMLS. She received a prestigious Emmy Noether Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG).
The new Emmy Noether research group is focused on neurovascular diseases with a particular interest in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and vascular cognitive impairments (VCI).



14 June 2018

Complexities of organelle biology

June 2018. With the complexities of organelle communication and their dynamics under intense investigation, what are the new principles that are emerging, and where is the field headed? Cell’s Robert Kruger recently discussed these questions with Erika Holzbaur from the University of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz from HHMI, Janelia Research Campus, and Ivan Dikic from Goethe University Frankfurt.



23 May 2018

Complementing conventional antibiotics

May 2018. Frankfurt scientists reveal atomic details for one of Legionella's enzymatic weapons and develop first inhibitor.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major medical problem worldwide, impacting both human health and economic well-being. A new strategy for fighting bacteria has now been reported in the latest online issue of Nature by a research group headed by Prof. Ivan Dikic at the Goethe University Frankfurt. The scientists revealed the molecular action mechanism of a Legionella toxin and developed a first inhibitor.



15 May 2018

Stefan Knapp elected EMBO member

May 2018. The European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) announced that Stefan Knapp, Professor at Goethe University Frankfurt, has been elected to its membership for his contribution to the life sciences.

Not every person who has a “cancer gene” will inevitably develop this disease in their lifetime. Thanks to a new area of research called epigenetics, we now know that many genes are only read under certain circumstances. Stefan Knapp not only researches the underlying mechanisms, he also developed small molecules that inhibit the derailment of gene expression in cancer. Now he has been elected as one of 62 new members of EMBO, joining a group of more than 1800 of the best researchers in Europe and around the world.



5 April 2018

Halogen‐aromatic pi-interactions modulate inhibitor residence time

April 2018. Prolonged drug residence times may result in longer lasting drug efficacy, improved pharmacodynamic properties and "kinetic selectivity" over off‐targets with fast drug dissociation rates. However, few strategies have been elaborated to rationally modulate drug residence time and thereby to integrate this key property into the drug development process. A team of scientists from Frankfurt, Oxford, Berlin and Heidelberg now report that the interaction between a halogen moiety on an inhibitor and an aromatic residue in the target protein can significantly increase inhibitor residence time.



22 March 2018

Kids Day – the next generation of top scientists at BMLS

March 2018. They were back - the next generation of top scientists came to visit the BMLS on March 22nd. We welcomed the 37 pre-school kids of the daycare Kairos and St. Bernhardt in our lab and had a wonderful day of science. The 6 stations that were prepared for the kids were a hands-on experience of various fields of science including biology and physics.



20 March 2018

3R-professor Maike Windbergs receives international research award

March 2018. Maike Windbergs, professor for Pharmaceutical Technology in Frankfurt, received the β€œResearch Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Pharmaceutical Sciences 2018” from the International Association for Pharmaceutical Technology (APV) for her excellent research in the field of design and preclinical testing of novel medicines. Since February 2017, Maike Windbergs is a professor for Pharmaceutical Technology at Goethe University and research group leader of the β€œDrug Delivery and 3R-Models” group at the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences. Besides innovative formulation approaches, one of her research foci is based on the development of complex three-dimensional in vitro tissue models for preclinical testing of novel drugs as alternative to animal testing. The award was presented in a ceremony during the international World Meeting on Pharmaceutics, Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology on the 20th of April 2018 in Granada, Spain.



20 March 2018

AGameOfClones for genotyping of transgenic model organisms

March 2018. Many scientists use model organisms, such as worms, mice and insects, to study biological processes – as discoveries made in these often also apply to other species. A common technique is genetic manipulation, in which a foreign gene is inserted into the chromosome of an organism. Such transgenic model organisms are important tools to analyze biological processes or mimic human diseases. Most organisms carry two homologous chromosomes – one inherited from each parent. Newly created transgenic organisms often carry the transgene on only one of the chromosomes. This can be a problem for scientists, as many experiments require individuals that carry the transgene on both. Genetic assays are, therefore, required to identify the genotype.



26 February 2018

New target for fertility protective therapy

January 2018. Infertility is a major negative side effect of chemotherapy. Scientists at Goethe University and Tor Vergata University in Rome have managed to decipher the detailed mechanism of how chemotherapy causes infertility in women.




26 January 2018

Cause of severe hereditary disease revealed

January 2018. The origin of many diseases lies in genetic abnormalities resulting in the functional defect of the proteins they are encoding. A well-known example is p53, the tumour suppressor protein. Inactivation of p53 by genomic mutations, amongst others, is one of the first essential steps in the development of tumours. Defects of the related protein p63, however, lead to a group of human disorders characterized by defects in embryonic development. Scientists of the Goethe University Frankfurt in collaboration with a research group of the University Neapel Federico II have now shed light on the so far unknown mechanism of one of these syndromes.



18 January 2018

Stefan Knapp is among the most cited protein scientists in Europe

January 2018. Stefan Knapp from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt is the 10th most cited protein scientist in Europe. Stefan Knapp, who joined Goethe University in 2015 from Oxford University, investigates the molecular mechanisms that regulate cellular signalling networks and how these mechanisms can be exploited for the design of selective inhibitors.



19 Dezember 2017

Enrico Schleiff appointed BMLS Director for another 4 years in office

December 2017. On Dec 6, 2017 the BMLS research group leaders assembly voted unanimously on the first ballot to nominate Professor Enrico Schleiff as BMLS Director for another four years in office. Both CEF Speaker Professor Volker DΓΆtsch and the Goethe University’s Executive Board followed the decision of the BMLS research group leaders assembly (Dec 12, 2017). Enrico Schleiff will start his next four-year term in January 2018.



10 October 2017

Molecular basis for memory and learning

October 2017. Learning and memory are two important functions of the brain that are based on the brain’s plasticity. Scientists from Goethe University Frankfurt report in the latest issue of the scientific journal β€œCell Reports” how a trio of key molecules directs these processes. Their findings provide new leads for the therapy of Alzheimer’s disease.




7 September 2017

5th BMLS Feldberg Challenge

October 2017. As a long standing BMLS tradition, the bravest members of the BMLS participated again at the yearly Feldberg Challenge. The Challenge was born 2013 by the idea to once a year climb the mountain, we see from our labs. We caught a lot of fresh air and It was great fun again. See you next year!




6 September 2017

BMLS Josef Buchmann Awards Ceremony

The Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) at the Goethe University, Riedberg Campus, celebrated its first Josef Buchmann Awards Ceremony on 6 September 2017.

The awards ceremony was dominated by the young researchers of the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) and their great achievements. In the BMLS, 160 doctoral students and postdocs work to decipher the functioning of cells at the molecular level and thus lay the foundations for new drugs and treatment methods.




30 July 2017

CRS Award for research on drug delivery and alternatives to animal testing

July 2017. Maike Windbergs, Professor for Pharmaceutical Technology and research group leader of the Drug Delivery and 3R-Models Group at BMLS, received the Controlled Release Society (CRS) T. Nagai Postdoctoral Research Achievement Award for her outstanding scientific achievements in the field of drug delivery spanning from carrier design up to development of complex preclinical in vitro models to test novel medicines. The Controlled Release Society is one of the biggest international non-profit organizations dedicated to science and technology of controlled release. The T. Nagai Postdoctoral Research Achievement Award has been established to recognize an individual young researcher who has recently completed postdoctoral research in controlled release science and technology and was awarded to Maike Windbergs during the CRS annual meeting and exposition which was held 16-19th of July in Boston.




5 July 2017

Funding for new LOEWE research cluster DynaMem:
Algorithmic description and modelling of membrane dynamics

July 2017. The new LOEWE research cluster β€žDynaMem”, short for β€œDynamics of Membranes. Molecular basics and theoretical description”, will be funded with 4.4 million Euro over four years starting from January 2018. >Involved in this project are the Goethe University Frankfurt, the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and the Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies.

With its LOEWE Program the Hessen State Government funds outstanding scientific collaborative research projects. The State Government of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) also contributes funds to DynaMem. The overarching aim of DynaMemβ€˜s research is the algorithmic description and modelling of membrane dynamics. This will enable scientists to make predictions about the dynamic behavior of membranes and how they react to interference.




13 June 2017

RNA researchers meet on Campus Riedberg

June 2017. Kathi Zarnack, Junior Group Leader at BMLS, participates in the organization of the RMU RNA Salon “Genomics approaches in RNA research”. The aim of this series of mini-symposia is to bring together RNA researchers from the different universities in the Rhein-Main area to exchange experiences and discuss the latest RNA-related technologies. For the organization, Kathi joined forces with JProf. Michaela MΞ“ΞŒller-McNicoll and Dr. Tobias Schmid from GU Frankfurt as well as Dr. Julian König (IMB, Mainz) and Dr. Oliver Rossbach (JLU Giessen).




8 June 2017

First BMLS Foyer Quiz

June 2017. The first BMLS Foyer Quiz took place on 8th of June 2017, organized by Harald Hofbauer and Devang Odedra. The quiz members from several BMLS research groups and was a lot of fun and a successful event, gathering six participating teams with more than forty participants! After fife quiz rounds and a total of fifty questions there was a tied first place with the teams "In-Team, es wird Ernst" and "G-Force". A tie breaker question, asking how much pints you can fill with one (oil) Barrel full of beer, again was a tough decider but "In-Team, es wird Ernst" was closer to the correct answer! Congratulations to the winning team ! Because of the great atmosphere, puzzling faces and cold drinks, it will be just a matter of time for the 2nd BMLS Foyer Quiz to take place!



8 May 2017

Linear ubiquitination controls Salmonella growth

May 2017. A team around Ivan Dikic and Mike Heilemann (Chemistry Department, Goethe University) gained unprecedented insight into the mechanism by which cells fight Salmonella infections. Upon intracellular invasion, bacteria are usually rapidly surrounded by a coat of ubiquitin, the function of which remained unclear until now. Combining super-resolution microscopy with cell biological analysis, the researchers now discovered that distinct ubiquitin chains transform the bacterial surface into a molecular signalling platform.



20 April 2017

3rd BMLS student symposium

April 2017. On 20th of April 2017, BMLS students gathered at the 3rd BMLS Student Symposium. This was the third year in a row BMLS students organized a symposium only for students (PhD students, Master and Bachelor students) and post-docs, giving the opportunity to practice conference-like situations, such as giving a scientific talk or having a poster presentation, but also engaging in networking and scientific discussions.



11 April 2017

Ivan Dikic awarded ERC Advanced Investigator Grant

April 2017. Ivan Dikic, IBC2 director and a member of CEF and BMLS, has been awarded an Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). It is the second time that Dikic receives the prestigious grant, which entails funding of € 2.5 million for the next five years. Within his new project, Dikic will be investigating how bacteria manipulate the ubiquitin system of their host organism. "Bacteria are rapidly changing chemical factories that subdue human cells and exploit them for their own needs. We focus on foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Shigella that cause around 200 million infections and more than 250.000 deaths per year", explains Dikic. "We will investigate how bacterial toxins containing different enzymatic activities cause cell and tissue damages, eventually resulting in symptoms of infection."



22 March 2017

The next generation of top scientists visits BMLS

March 2017.

On 22 March we welcomed the 31 pre-school kids of the daycare Kairos and St. Bernhardt to the kids lab and had a wonderful day of science. The 6 stations that were prepared for the kids were a hands-on experience of various fields of science including biology and physics.



14 March 2017

How to brew high-value fatty acids with brewer's yeast

March 2017. NerShort-chain fatty acids are high-value constituents of cosmetics, active pharmaceutical ingredients, antimicrobial substances, aromas or soap. To date, it has only been possible to extract them from crude oil by chemical means or from certain plants, such as coconut, using a complex process. Research groups led by Martin Grininger and Eckhard Boles at Goethe University Frankfurt have now succeeded in producing such fatty acids in large quantities from sugar or waste containing sugar with the help of yeasts. The process is simple and similar to that of beer brewing.



7 March 2017

3rd BMLS Student Symposium

View full poster...


2 Februar 2017

A molecular 'gear shift' in the nervous system

February 2017. Nerve cells communicate via chemical messengers, so-called neurotransmitters (e.g., acetylcholine), which enable a rapid and directed transmission of information. Other messengers used in the nervous system are neurohormones and neuropeptides, which have modulatory functions. The release of such messengers occurs at contact points between neurons, so-called synapses.



1 Februar 2017

New research group joins BMLS

February 2017. In February, Maike Windbergs and her research team joined the BMLS. The group is working on novel drug delivery approaches to treat infectious and inflammatory diseases of epithelial tissues such as the skin and the buccal mucosa. To translate such concepts into the clinical application, a major research focus is on developing preclinical in vitro models as predictive alternative to animal models. According to the 3R-concept (replace, reduce, refine), the group is working on three-dimensional cell cultivates to simulate human tissue in healthy and diseased state. Such models allow for elucidating the due and progress of diseases (e.g. wound infections) as well as testing novel approaches for drug delivery in a pathophysiologically relevant environment. The professorship is embedded into the Faculty 14 (Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy) of Goethe University and the research focus bridges the interface of fundamental and applied sciences. Read more...


10 December 2016

Autophagy captures the Nobel Prize

December 2016. This year's Nobel Essay in Cell has been written by Ivan Dikic (IBC2) together with Sharon Tooze (Francis Crick Institute, London). Published on time for the Nobel Ceremony on 10th December, the article highlights milestones leading to the discovery of the molecular principles underlying autophagy by Yoshinori Ohsumi, who is this years' winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. Dikic and Tooze tell the story of a simple yet insightful yeast genetic screen that revealed what later was recognized to be one of the most powerful quality-control pathways in cells. Read more...


5 December 2016

Further funding for Ub-Net

December 2016. The Hessian Ministry for Science and Arts (HMWK) announced on 5 December 2016 that the LOEWE program Ub-Net will be extended for another year. The initiative led by IBC2 Director Ivan Dikic will receive 1.08 million € to continue deciphering the complexity of ubiquitin networks and analysing the underlying molecular mechanisms. Read more...


1 December 2016

New ubiquitin chemistry regulates life processes

December 2016. In the latest issue of Cell, a team around IBC2 director and BMLS member Ivan Dikic reveals molecular details of a novel ubiquitination mechanism that may affect numerous life processes. Earlier this year, U.S. colleagues reported that Legionella enzyme SdeA is capable of catalysing ubiquitination single-handedly. Now, the Frankfurt scientists together with collaborators from the MPI for Biology of Ageing (Cologne) have elucidated the chemistry behind and discovered a hitherto unknown type of linkage between ubiquitin and target proteins. Unlike the conventional ubiquitination reaction, the novel one is NAD-dependent, involving an ADP-ribose intermediate and resulting in the attachment of ubiquitin to substrate serine residues via a phosphodiester bond. Read more...


1 December 2016

International marketing concept of UBAUT networks receives DFG award

December 2016. As the German Research Foundation (DFG) announced today, Goethe University (GU) is one of the winners of the 2016 Competition for International Research Marketing Ideas.
The awarded concept “Let’s talk about UBAUT” was initiated by IBC2, LOEWE Ub-Net and SFB 1177 on Autophagy in collaboration with GU’s Departments for Internationalization and Marketing and Communication.



21 November 2016

SFB 1080 funding extended

Following a successful first funding period, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved 12 million euros of funding for the Collaborative Research Center 1080. Over the coming four-year period, the group will investigate the molecular and cellular interactions that enable the brain to maintain a balanced functional state and advance neuroscience research in the Rhine-Main area. Read more...


15 November 2016

Cryo-electron microscopy: Visualization of the structure of RNA polymerase I while actively transcribing ribosomal DNA genes

RNA polymerase is a central enzyme for the cellular function that transcribes DNA to RNA. In their latest paper in Nature, researchers from the BMLS at the Goethe University in Frankfurt and the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen have visualized the RNA Polymerase I (Pol I) while it is actively transcribing ribosome genes in a cellular environment, and have solved its structure with and without nucleic acids at 3.8 Å resolution by cryo-electron microscopy. The structures explain the regulation of transcription elongation in which contracted and expanded polymerase conformations are associated with active and inactive states, respectively. Read more...


4 October 2016

BMLS participates in the Goethe Universities "Academic Welcome Program"

On October 4, a guided tour through the Campus Riedberg took place for the participants of the "Academic Welcome Program" (AWP). The tour started at the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) with a warm welcome and a short introduction by the BMLS Vice Director Prof. Martin Grininger. With a lot of enthusiasm, the participants were guided through the labs of Prof. Amparo Acker-Palmer by Dr. Marta Segarra and the PhD student Florian Cop, explaining one aspect of their research focus on the molecular communication routes on which the formation of neuronal and vascular networks is based. Subsequently Dr. Misha Kudryashev gave an overview of his research projects using single particle cryo-electron-microscopy and tomography while showing his labs at the MPI of Biophysics. The tour went through various institutes on the Riedberg campus and ended again at the BMLS by visiting the research group of Prof. Alexander Gottschalk where the participants could attend a presentation highlighting the major research topics of the group. Afterwards, the participants visited the microscopy facility of the Gottschalk group where they could ask questions and observe the model organism C. elegance through the microscope. Read more...


30 September 2016

Unveiling the ubiquitin fingerprint induced by Salmonella infection

Salmonella is a Gram-negative bacterium that represents one of the major causes of food-borne diseases in the world and provokes one third of all infections with fatal outcome. This bacterium has evolved several strategies to survive in the human body and to prevent its killing by host immune cells. Its major advantage is its intracellular lifestyle: The bacterium gets enclosed in Salmonella containing vacuoles upon entry into the cell, allowing its replication and propagation. However, also the host cells have developed defence mechanisms against bacterial infection and mark bacterial intruders with ubiquitin resulting in their degradation via the autophagy system (a process called xenophagy). Hence, a cellular invasion by bacterial pathogens can immediately be detected on the molecular level. Read more...


12 July 2016

New LOEWE collaborative project MegaSyn

The new LOEWE collaborative research project MegaSyn has been approved for funding from the State of Hessen. MegaSyn scientists will receive 4.6 million Euro, starting in January 2017. MegaSyn brings together scientific expertise from five research institutions. Goethe University Frankfurt leads the team which includes as partners the MPI of Biophysics in Frankfurt, Philipps University Marburg, the MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg and the Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen in Gießen. Read more...


30 June 2016

Adolf Messer-Stiftungspreis for Anja Bremm

Dr. Anja Bremm, group leader of the Molecular Cell Biology Group at IBC2 and Buchmann Institute for Life Sciences (BMLS) was awarded the 2016 Adolf Messer-Stiftungspreis for her research on the physiological role of deubiquitinases (DUBs) in autophagy, endowed by the Adolf Messer Foundation. Stefan Müller, professor of IBC2, held the laudatory speech at the official award ceremony on June 30th, 2016. The prize is conferred annually to early career scientists with an outstanding proven track record to promote pioneering fundamental research projects in natural sciences and medicine and is remunerated with 25.000 €. Read more...


27 June 2016

Signal for targeting β-barrel proteins to mitochondria identified

A new study, which was published on 27 June 2016 by the journal Nature Communications, reveals that β-barrel proteins are targeted to mitochondria by a dedicated β-hairpin element and this motif is recognized at the organelle surface by the outer membrane translocase.

Mitochondrial β-barrel proteins are synthesized on cytosolic ribosomes and must be specifically targeted to the organelle before their integration into the mitochondrial outer membrane. The signal that assures such precise targeting and its recognition by the organelle remained obscure. A team of scientists from the Goethe University Frankfurt and Tuebingen University has solved the puzzle: a specialized β-hairpin motif is this long searched for signal. Read more...


21 June 2016

How yeast cells regulate their fat balance - Cylinder-shaped structures measure saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

Not only humans but also each of their body cells must watch their fat balance. Fats perform highly specialised functions, especially in the cell membrane. A research group at the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) of Goethe University in Frankfurt, together with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, has now discovered how yeast cells measure the availability of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in foodstuffs and adapt their production of membrane lipids to it. This opens up new possibilities to understand the production and distribution of fatty acids and cholesterol in our body cells and make them controllable in future, report the researchers in the latest issue of the "Molecular Cell" journal. Read more...


3 June 2016

Anniversary: 5 years BMLS at Riedberg

The Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) at the Goethe University celebrated its fifth anniversary on 2 June 2016. On the occasion of this event the latest research results were presented as a part of the German-Israeli Symposium.

The day started with a scientific symposium which was fireworks of outstanding science! All presentations were met by enthusiasm from the audience, so that the listeners who had to sit on the steps didn't repent their coming and remained until the last minute.

The ceremony, which took place in the afternoon, was held in a marquee on the meadow with spring flowers and the approximately 200 guests could enjoy the view of the red building - the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Science (BMLS). The Institute was founded as part of the Cluster of Excellence "Macromolecular Complexes" (CEF), at the Goethe University, shortly after the German Council of Science and Humanities had recommended the funding of a research building for the Cluster. In 2011 the first research groups moved in.



2 June 2016

5 Years Anniversary Symposium

View full poster...


21 April 2016

Quality control in oocytes by p63 is based on a spring-loaded activation mechanism

The p53 protein family with its three members p53, p63 and p73 plays very important roles in the surveillance of genetic and cellular stability. Probably the most ancient function of this family is the maintenance of genetic quality in germ cells since even short lived eukaryotic animals express a p63-like protein in their germ cells. In mammals, up to ten different isoforms of p63 exist. The longest isoform, TAp63α, is highly expressed in primary oocytes that are arrested in prophase of meiosis I. Read more...


29 Feb 2016

New EU project addresses diabetes with pancreas organoids

The goal of the new EU project LSFM4Life is the production of long-term renewing pancreas organoids for the cellular therapy of type 1 diabetes. The cause of this type of diabetes is a lack of insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreatic islets. The rate of people affected by type 1 diabetes is rising every year and is increasing particularly amongst young children. Read more...


31 Jan 2016

4th BMLS Ski Retreat

From the 28th to the 31st of January, about 50 members of the BMLS and friends joined the 4th BMLS Ski-entific Retreat in Riezlern, Austria. The retreat was a mix of 20-minute talks by BMLS PIs introducing into projects and 45-minute talks by the external speakers, plenty of skiing and après ski, as well as stimulating scientific discussions and nice entertainment. A big thank you for fantastic talks goes to our external speakers Karl-Peter Hopfner (LMU Munich), Friedrich Förster (MPI of Biochemistry Martinsried) and Andreas Tebbe (Evotec Munich)! Read more...


28 Jan 2016

Uncovering the secrets of root growth

Plants produce new organs throughout their lifespan. It is largely unknown whether this robust post-embryonic organ formation results from stereotypic dynamic processes, in which the arrangement of cells follows rigid rules. A team of scientists from the Universities of Frankfurt and Heidelberg combined modeling with empirical observations of whole-organ development to identify the principles governing lateral root formation using the model plant Arabidopsis.




21 Jan 2016

Roles of autophagy during tumorigenesis

Autophagy can act either as a tumor suppressor or as a survival mechanism for established tumors. To understand how autophagy plays this dual role in cancer, in vivo models are required. By using a highly heterogeneous C. elegans germline tumor, the research group of Christian Pohl in collaboration with the research group of Ivan Dikic could now show that autophagy-related proteins are expressed in a specific subset of tumor cells, the neurons. Moreover, they could demonstrate that inhibition of autophagy impairs neuronal differentiation and results in a shorter life span of animals with tumors. In contrast, induction of autophagy extends life span by impairing tumor proliferation, which also depends on modular changes in transcription networks and mitochondrial metabolism. The findings from this work, recently published in the journal 'Autophagy', suggest that metabolic restructuring, cell-type specific regulation of autophagy and neuronal differentiation play key roles in regulating the growth of heterogeneous tumors.




17th Dec 2015

Protein crystallography without crystals?

December 2015. Structure determination by protein crystallography is limited by the ability of proteins to crystallize. Since many proteins cannot be crystallized, high resolution X-ray structure information is often missing. Masato Akutus from the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences has won funding from the Volkswagen Stiftung to develop a novel and rapid approach for structure determination by making use of a molecular framework for protein crystallization. If successful this approach would eliminate the need to crystallize proteins in the conventional way but still provide high-resolution structural information. The molecular framework will act like a molecular sieve, which will trap proteins. It should then be possible to determine the structure of the protein in complex with the sieve. Such a new approach would open a universal, easy, fast and low sample consuming approach that would eliminate the biggest hurdle of protein crystallography.



9th Dec 2015

2nd BMLS student symposium

On 9th of December 2015, BMLS students gathered at the 2nd BMLS Student Symposium. This was the second year in a row BMLS students organized a symposium only for students (PhD students, Master and Bachelor students) and post-docs, giving the opportunity to practice conference-like situations, such as giving a scientific talk or having a poster presentation, but also engaging in networking and scientific discussions. In the first part of the symposium six talks were given by PhD students from several groups. As an addition this year, the following talk was held by an external speaker. Dr. Lothar Meier from the Infraserv Hoechst AG was invited to introduce the industry park Hoechst by illustrating its history and future developments, and how academics can contribute to this concept.



30th Nov 2015

BMLS Fundraise for Refugees

In September, a BMLS fundraising was initiated to support the overwhelming number of refugees. During a cake sell at the BMLS institute 150 Euro were collected which was donated to the UNO Refugee Agency. This money is used to help people in the affected countries such as Syria, Iraq, etc.. As an example, with those 150 Euro aid supplies such as water canisters, sleeping mats, solar-powered lamps and soap can be funded.



Call for Talks and Posters

2nd BMLS Student Symposium - Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015

BMLS-affiliated students (PhD, Dipl., MSc., BSc.) and postdocs are cordially invited to the 2nd BMLS Student Symposium. This year we are pleased to announce that external speakers will be a great asset for this event. Students and postdocs are encouraged to submit titles for a talk or a poster. A prize will be awarded to the Best Talk and the Best Poster. Registration starts now!



20th Nov 2015

DFG funds autophagy research network - 11 million € for establishing a new Collaborative Research Centre

Scientists from Frankfurt and Mainz have successfully applied for funding to establish a Collaborative Research Centre (CRC)/Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) on the molecular mechanisms of selective autophagy. Autophagy literally means "self-eating" and describes a process by which the cell recycles harmful ballast like aggregated proteins, damaged organelles or even bacterial invaders. The centre will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with 11 million € for the next four years. The initiative is led by the former BMLS director Ivan Dikic, and is the first large-scale collaborative network in Germany in this highly competitive field.



19th Oct 2015    Membership of Academia Europea

The European Academy (Academia Europaea) announces the list of 248 scientists who were elected to the academy in 2015. Amongst them is Ivan Dikic, director of the Institute of Biochemistry 2 at the Medical School Goethe University and founding director of the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Sciences (BMLS).



3rd Oct 2015    SGRF Excellence in Science Award for Ivan Dikic

Ivan Dikic receives this years' SciGenom Research Foundation (SGRF) Excellence in Science Award for his contribution to molecular signalling and biomedicine. The award was presented at the 2015 NGBT Conference in Hyderabad, India, where Ivan Dikic was giving a keynote lecture on ubiquitin and autophagy networks in health and disease. Read more...


Oct 2015    Ivan Dikic appointed as a Senior Editor of eLife

Ivan Dikic has been appointed as a senior editor of the scientific journal eLife in the area of molecular signalling and quality control pathways. Since 2013, he has been serving on the board of editors of this unique journal, which is driven by a non-profit, researcher-led initiative and is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Society. Ivan Dikic also serves on the editorial boards of Cell, Molecular Cell, Molecular Cell, Developmental Cell, EMBO Journal, EMBO Reports, Science Signaling, Autophagy,  J Cell Biol, BMC Biology, Biochemical Journal, Cell Death and Diff. He is elected as a chairman of the EMBO Publication Committee from 2015-2018.



1st Oct 2015    BMLS to purchase high resolution mass spectrometer

The BMLS Institute is going to add a modern mass spectrometer to its technology platform. The respective application has been just approved by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The application led by Prof. Helge Bode and supported by Dr. Martin Vabulas and other seven principal investigators from the BMLS Institute and the CEF Macromolecular Complexes convinced the granting agency of the urgent need for a high resolution mass spectrometer to support their proteomic and system biology research projects. The new technology will allow the scientists to broaden and deepen the proteomic analysis, especially in regard to posttranscriptional protein modifications, such as protein phosphorylation or ubiquitylation.



25th Sep 2015    Model system for the study of heartbeat irregularities

Irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia) is often associated with mutations in ion channels or other proteins. To enable drug development for distinct arrhythmias, model systems are required that allow the investigation of patient-specific mutations.

A team of scientists led by Alexander Gottschalk at the Goethe Univeristy Frankfurt established a new model system that may allow screening of drug candidates affecting specific mutations in the voltage-gated Ca2+-channel, and permit a better understanding of the effects of distinct mutations on a macroscopic level. Their findings were published on 24 September 2015 in the journal Scientific Reports.



8th Sep 2015    Novel optogenetic Tool for light-dependent generation of the cellular signaling molecule cGMP

Cyclic GMP (cGMP) is an important cellular messenger acting in processes such as visual perception, regulation of blood pressure, induced cell death, but also in regulation of penile erection. For example, the drug Viagra causes accumulation of cGMP in cells. The researche group of Prof. Alexander Gottschalk, together with colleagues from the University of W¨rzburg, was able to establish a novel light-sensitive protein from the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii as a so-called 'optogenetic' tool, which can directly form the messenger cGMP upon illumination of cells expressing it.


7th Sep 2015    BMLS Fundraising Campaign for Refugees

Over 650.000 refugees uprooted by crisis especially in Serbia, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea und Bosnian-Herzegovina are expected in 2015 to seek asylum in Germany. It is the cruel truth that more than 2000 refugees were drown during their attempt to flee over the Mediterranean Sea to find shelter and help. The ones which made their exhausting and often very dangerous way to Germany are stranded at initial registration facilities across Germany. Those institutions are currently overstrained by the overwhelming number of refugees. Consequently, many of them - including babies, children, old, sick or injured people - do not have a place to sleep or to recover from their terrible experiences which lie behind them. More and more cities are starting to build e.g. tent camps for the refugees. But there is a huge lack of simple, material things.


16th Jul 2015    Science is fun - School children visit the lab

Kathi Zarnack and Christian Pohl, both Junior Group Leaders at BMLS, met with 3rd-year children of two Primary Schools in Frankfurt to tell about their research. They answered questions about cells and the DNA inside and invited the children to observe different cells and small organisms under the microscope.


17th Jun 2015    Martin Grininger appointed BMLS Vice Director

Martin Grininger, Lichtenberg Professor of the Volkswagen Foundation and BMLS Group Leader since 2012 has been appointed BMLS Vice Director retroactively as of 1st June 2015 by BMLS Director Enrico Schleiff. Martin Grininger was born 1976 in Linz in Austria. At school he was mainly interested in one thing: sports, especially skiing. Towards the end of his time at school he discovered that he liked chemistry too, so in 1995 he began to study chemistry at the University of Linz. He moved to Graz in 1998 to focus more on organic and biological chemistry and completed his degree with a diploma thesis at the Max- Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mühlheim/Ruhr. Martin started his PhD project at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried in 2002. After finishing his PhD in 2006 he stayed on at the MPI as project group leader. From 2010 to 2011 he was guest professor at the University of Vienna and in 2012 he became Lichtenberg-Professor of the Volkswagen Foundation at the Goethe University Frankfurt. Skiing remains his hobby. He tries to compensate for the lack of snow in Frankfurt with other sports and activities. The underlying goal of his research is to provide understanding of the functional mechanisms of proteins to finally reprogram their reaction modes. BMLS congratulates Martin Grininger and is looking forward to a successful collaboration.


3rd Jun 2015    When quality control fails

Defects in the quality control systems of cells are often fatal. This is seen in particular in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. As published in today's online version of Nature, a research team led by Ivan Dikic discovered a new autophagy receptor which plays a central role in cellular quality control. Mutations in this receptor impair its function and cause a hereditary neuropathy named HSAN II. This milestone study not only gives insight into the pathophysiology of a disastrous disease, but also emphasizes the importance of the autophagy network for the wellbeing of cells. Link to German press release, English press release, original article



20th May 2015    EMBO announces new members for 2015

EMBO has elected neurobiologist Amparo Acker-Palmer as one of its new members. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of guidance cues involved in the formation of nervous and vascular systems. This is the second excellent piece of news this month for Amparo Acker-Palmer who recently was also selected by the European Research Council for one of its ERC Advanced Grants.


15th May 2015    Novel gene causing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ) is a devastating disease characterized by loss of motor neurons and neurodegeneration, usually leading to death within 3-4 years. Despite being classified as rare disease, public awareness is very high, fueled by celebrity patients like Stephen Hawking and culminating in last years Ice Bucket Challenge, the first charity campaign with global impact. Still, there is no treatment for ALS, despite intensive research in the field. Read more

12th May 2015    How do neurons and blood vessels "talk" to each other?

Neurons and blood vessels often traverse the body side by side, a fact observed as early as the 16th century by the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius. Only over the last ten years, however, researchers have discovered that the growth of neuronal and vascular networks is controlled by the same molecules. Amparo Acker-Palmer, a pioneer in this area, performs groundbreaking research on the communication between neurons and blood vessel cells in the brain. She hopes to use her findings to gain important insights into brain diseases such as dementia and mental illness. The European Research Council will fund her project with an Advanced Investigator Grant of 2.5 million euros over the next five years. ... Read more

29th Apr 2015    BMLS Director Enrico Schleiff re-elected GU Vice President

Goethe University Frankfurt elects three new Vice Presidents, adding Professor Brigitte Haar, Professor Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz and Professor Enrico Schleiff to the executive board. They were elected by a majority of the extended Senate on the first ballot, confirming the nominations of the University's new President, Professor Birgitta Wolff... Read more

21st Apr 2015    Zooming into wound healing

Scientists from the Goethe University Frankfurt, EMBL and the University of Zurich explain skin fusion at a molecular level and pinpoint the specific molecules that do the job in their latest publication in the journal Nature Cell Biology.... Read more

24th Mar 2015    Next generation optogenetics: tool development and application

Optogenetics has revolutionized neuroscience and is starting to revolutionize cell biology research too. New fields of investigation have emerged because of the exhiting new possibilities offered by this still relatively new method. The accurate manipulation of activity at the cellular and molecular level made possible through optogenetic methods allows for example the unraveling of signaling pathways inside living cells. New prospects for medical therapy are also on the horizon, such as restoration of vision or hearing. ... Read more

6th Jan 2015    Dialkylresorcinols as bacterial signaling molecules

Bacteria can communicate with each other via small diffusible molecules to mediate group coordinated interactions and thus develop potentially pathogenic effects. The research teams led by Helge B. Bode, Merck Endowed Professor of Molecular Biotechnology at Goethe University Frankfurt and Ralf Heermann, lecturer at the Department of Microbiology at the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich have now deciphered a second previously unknown and widespread chemical type of bacterial communication... Read more

6th Jan 2015    PLEKHM1: A Multifunctional Adaptor for the Endolysosomal System

As reported in this month's issue of Molecular Cell and Cell Host & Microbe, an international team of researchers led by Ivan Dikic has shed light on the molecular function of the protein PLEKHM1, that has previously been shown to regulate bone density in humans and rats. The team has identified two novel functions for the protein that are importan... Read more

2nd Jan 2015    Light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy is the Nature Method of the Year 2014

Light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM, SPIM, DSLM) enables relatively gentle imaging of biological samples with high resolution in three dimensions and over long periods of time. Especially when combined with high-speed cameras, it is fast enough to capture cellular or subcellular dynamics. For its potential for fast, relatively gentle, volumetric imaging of biological samples, light-sheet fluorescence microscopy was chosen as Nature Method of the Year 2014. Read more

15th Dez 2014    New approach to modifying functional properties of rhodopsin optogenetic tools - via the retinal chromophore, not the protein

Since their discovery in 2003, rhodopsin optogenetic tools are widely used in neurobiology. Many variants of these proteins were introduced, all based on mutagenesis or engineering of the protein backbones. In a joint effort, the group of Jana Liewald and Alexander Gottschalk, together with Hegemann (Berlin), Fiala (Göttingen) and Trauner (Munich) have developed a novel approach to alter the functional properties of rhodopsin optogenetic tools, namely by modifications of the retinal chromophore. Synthetic retinal analogs were introduced into Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) or other rhodopsin tools in C. elegans, Drosophila and human cells, to change the light sensitivity, photo cycle kinetics and color spectrum of the optogenetic actuators. The work is going to be published in Nature Communications on Monday, 15th December, 2014. Read more

12th Nov 2014    1st BMLS student symposium

On 12th Nov 2014, BMLS students met in the 1st BMLS Student Symposium. It was the first time when BMLS students organized a symposium only for students (PhD students, Post-Docs, Master and Bachelor students), giving the opportunity to practice conference-like situations, networking and having scientific discussions. In the first part of the symposium seven talks were given by PhD students from several groups. The second part was a poster presentation where eleven authors presented their poster in a two minute short presentation followed by a poster session. At the end of the event a prize (kindly donated by BMLS group leaders) for the best talk with the title "Of Oranges and Cherries, Emeralds and Rubies" was awarded to Frederic Strobl from the group of Ernst Stelzer. The prize for the best poster with the title "The Role of Reelin in the Blood Brain Barrier" was awarded to Victor-Valentin Hodirnau from the group of Achilleas Frangakis. About 50 participants contributed to this successful event. BMLS students are looking forward to organize similar events in the future.

5th Nov 2014    Visit of Birgitta Wolff

The future President of Goethe University Frankfurt, Professor Birgitta Wolff, visited the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) on 5th Nov 2014 on invitation from BMLS director Enrico Schleiff. The scientists were delighted to welcome Birgitta Wolff and to introduce her to their research, building and laboratories. The international and highly interdisciplinary institute on Riedberg Campus in Frankfurt currently hosts thirteen research groups with a total of 170 staff from over twenty countries. During her half day visit Birgitta Wolff met with professors, junior group leaders, postdocs, PhD students and technical-administrative staff. All involved very much enjoyed the visit and the constructive discussions. The enthusiasm of the scientists for their research and the high-tech state of the art laboratories specifically made an impression. BMLS members were only too happy to answer Birgitta Wolff's questions ranging from science over job opportunities to technical details. The future president showed a particular interest in the younger scientists. BMLS very much thanks her for her interest and wishes her great success in the new position.
Foto: Goehte-Universität Frankfurt/ Uwe Dettmar

29th Sep 2014    Breakthrough in liver cancer - New mutation causing early onset liver cancer detected

A multidisciplinary, international team led by C. Kubisch (Ulm University), K. Ramadan (Oxford University), J. Terzic (Split University), D. Amor (University of Melbourne) and I. Dikic (Goethe University in Frankfurt) reports in today's online issue of Nature Genetics the discovery of a hitherto unknown mutation causing early onset liver cancer.

Read more

25th Aug 2014    Ivan Dikic to become a Vallee Visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School

Alexa Mason, CEO Vallee foundation and Ivan Dikic at the Foundation Symposium, Boston 2014
The Vallee Foundation announced the appointment of six new Vallee Visiting Professors (VVPs), who will receive the resources to spend one month at a premier biomedical research institute of their choice. Besides Ivan Dikic, the award goes to Bonnie Bassler, Chris Dobson, Tyler Jacks, Thomas Shenk and Andreas Strasser this year. Since 1997, 47 VVPs have been appointed, and the program has been a great success in fostering intellectual exchange, building scientific partnerships and kicking off exciting new projects. Ivan Dikic will join Harvard Medical School in 2015 for his VVP sabbatical.
More info here
For ASBMB PDF  click here

1st June 2014    BMLS opens its doors to the general public as part of the open day on Riedberg Campus

The Week of Science on Riedberg Campus from 1-6 June 2014 forms part of the Goethe University's program to celebrate its 100th anniversary. BMLS opened its doors to the general public as part of the "Open Sunday" on 1 June 2014. The day started with a wonderful sunny morning and the opening of the University's new science garden. This was followed by a varied program of activities, including seminars, exhibitions, tours, live music and activities for all ages at the different departments and institutes located on the Riedberg.
Read more

30th May 2014    100 Years Goethe University − Uni Cup Rowing Regatta

In the context of "100 Years Goethe University" and the "5th Frankfurter Ruderfest" a challenching rowing regatta has been organized by Prof. Enrico Schleiff (Goethe University), Kaan Erkinay (GU) and Oliver Palme (Frankfurter Regatta Verein).
Read more

26th May 2014    Non-invasive long-term fluorescence live imaging of Tribolium castaneum embryos.

During the last years, Tribolium castaneum has emerged as the second most important insect model organism trailing Drosophila melanogaster. However, previous fluorescence live imaging attempts addressed only particular issues and covered only short time periods. In the current issue of Development, Frederic Strobl and Ernst Stelzer provide a protocol for the non-invasive long-term fluorescence live imaging of Tribolium castaneum embryos. They document, for the first time, the complete embryonic morphogenesis process continuously in one embryo and along four orientations discovering a new transient structure on the extraembryonic membrane - the serosa scar.
Link to publication
Link to YouTube video "Imaging embryogenesis in the beetle Tribolium"

25th April 2014    HFSP Program Grant for BMLS.

The International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization announced this year's winners of the competition for one of the prestigious HFSP research grants. Amongst the awardees is the Dikic group at the BMLS, who together with the Sidhu group (Canada), the Komatsu group (Japan) and the Sander group (U.S.) will receive 1,35 M USD for the next 3 years. "This award considerably pushes autophagy research in Frankfurt, especially because it funds one of our most innovative projects. Within the next 3 years, we expect to gain a lot of knowledge about molecular targeting of the autophagy network", says Ivan Dikic, IBCII director and founding director of the BMLS. Read more

11th April 2014    Amparo Acker Palmer will join the MPI for Brain Research as a Max Planck Fellow.

Amparo Acker Palmer will join the MPI as a Max Planck Fellow, effective July 1st, 2014. The Max Planck Fellow Program promotes cooperation between outstanding university professors and Max Planck Society researchers. The appointment of university professors as Max Planck Fellows is limited to a five-year period and also entails the supervision of a small working group at a Max Planck Institute.

10th April 2014    The control of signaling in immunity and inflammation.

The groups of Ivan Dikic and Masato Akutsu have moved closer in understanding how a novel form of protein modification, the linear ubiquitination, controls central pathways of immunity and inflammation. In a collaborative effort, they showed that the two enzymes responsible for assembling and disassembling linear ubiquitin chains are contained in one complex. By structural analysis, they managed to decipher the molecular details of the interaction between these two key enzymes and were able to show how the opposing activities of the complex are controlled. Their results are published in the current edition of Molecular Cell online

18th March 2014    German Society for Cell Biology honours Ernst Stelzer.

Ernst Stelzer received the "Carl Zeiss Lecture 2014" at the International Meeting of the German Society for Cell Biology in Regensburg.
The Society awards this prize for internationally outstanding achievements in the field of light and electron microscopy. Ernst Stelzer's development and patents for light sheet microscopy have led to a new fluorescence microscopy system being now available to scientists worldwide. Link to ZEISS press release

25th Feb 2014    New piece in the puzzle of neuronal communication.

Detailed knowledge of the mechanisms that underlie neuronal communication is essential to better understand brain function and pathological conditions. Neurons can modulate their signal input not only by altering the area covered by their dendritic trees, but also by adapting the strength of their synapses. Regulation of cargo transport via adaptor molecules is essential for neuronal development. However, the role of PDZ scaffolding proteins as adaptors in neuronal cargo trafficking is still poorly understood. Read more...

10th Feb 2014    BMLS scientists Deepika Singh and Christian Pohl uncover a biomechanical mechanism for embryonic patterning.

Early embryos need to generate a specific coordinate system to develop properly. In the last issue of Developmental Cell, BMLS scientists Deepika Singh and Christian Pohl now uncover a biomechanical mechanism that helps to form one axis in this coordinate system. This mechanism uses a remnant of cell division to orient cells along this axis. Link to publication

18th Dec 2013    Three new group leaders will start their groups in 2014.

Just before Christmas three group leaders signed their contracts for starting their first independent groups at BMLS. Dr Anja Bremm (left) who received a prestigious Emmy Noether Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG), Dr Masato Akutsu (second from left) who will be heading a group endowed by the Leibniz Prize awarded to Ivan Dikic (right) by the DFG, and Dr Kathi Zarnack (third from left) who will be funded through the LOEWE program 'Ubiquitin networks'. Both Kathi Zarnack and Masato Akutsu will also be supported by a donation from the Buchmann Foundation. All three will start their groups in 2014, Anja Bremm mainly concentrating on cellular signaling, Masato Akutsu strengthening the structural biology platform, and Kathi Zarnack establishing the first bioinformatics group.

5th Dec 2013    Structure of HOIP catalytic core solved.

In collaboration with Katrin Rittinger at the MRC-NIMR in London, the Dikic group solved a molecular puzzle about the formation of specific Ubiquitin chains. In the current issue of Nature, they report the crystal structure of the catalytic core of HOIP, the critical enzymes involved in forming linear (Met1-linked) Ubiquitin chains. These chains are important regulators of cellular signalling, and knowing the molecular structure of the complexes involved is an important step forward to understanding how these pathways control innate immunity and inflammation.
Link to nature publication

27th Nov 2013    Ernst Stelzer awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Microscopical Society.

The Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) is to award Ernst Stelzer the Honorary Fellowship of the Society for his contribution to the development of confocal microscopy. Ernst Stelzer will receive his honorary fellowship at the Microscience Microscopy Congress in July 2014 where he will also be giving the plenary talk.
The RMS will be celebrating its 175th Anniversary in 2014. Honorary Fellowships are bestowed to a limited number of scientists by the RMS for eminence in microscopy or related branches of science or for exceptional service to science. Further information on the RMS read more

10th June 2013    Visit of Hessian Minister Michael Boddenberg.

Left: Prof. Frangakis explaining the Titan Krios electron microscope to Minister Boddenberg, middle: Minister Boddenberg observing movements of the worm C. elegans , right: Prof. Stelzer, Minister Boddenberg, Prof. Dötsch (from left)
As part of the 'Research Awareness Weeks', Hessian Minister of Federal Affairs, Michael Boddenberg, took a tour around the Buchmann Institute and the Center for Biomagnetic Resonance. He was impressed by the setup of equipment and technologies on Riedberg Campus.

8th January 2013    BMLS director Ivan Dikic to receive Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine.

The Jung Foundation for Science and Research announced that Ivan Dikic will receive the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine 2013 for his groundbreaking work in understanding the role of Ubiquitin in cellular signal regulation. The prize is awarded with 150,000 € and will be presented at a ceremony on 3rd May in Hamburg. Read more.

6th December 2012
Frankfurt researcher is admitted to the German Academy of Sciences.

Ivan Dikic, Scientific Director of the CEF-funded FMLS, is elected a member of the Leopoldina

6th December 2012
Leibniz Prize 2013 for BMLS director Ivan Dikic.

In recognition of his fundamental contribution to decrypting the Ubiquitin code, Ivan Dikic is to receive the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2013, Germany`s most prestigious scientific award. The award is funded and presented by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It is the research price with the highest endowment worldwide and comes with a grant of 2.5 M €
Read more.

10th September 2012
BMLS Group Leader wins ERC Starting Grant.

Martin Vabulas was awarded with one of the prestigious grants for early-career researchers, enabling him to carry out his ambitious MetaMeta project. The project studies the metastability of proteins during tumor metastasis and will now be endowed with 1.4 M € for the next 5 years. Link to Goethe University press release and ERC press release.
Read more.

27th August 2012
Renaming of the Institute is celebrated in a festive ceremony.

As a sign of gratitude to the Frankfurt businessmann and patron Dr. h.c. Josef Buchmann, the Institute has been named Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences. Josef Buchmann has been a generous supporter of the Goethe University for more than 25 years, and has recently also sponsored the Institute substantially, enabling the recruitment of further young academics to the Riedberg campus. Link to German press release.
Read more.

Amparo Acker-Palmer 10th August 2012
BMLS scientist Amparo Acker-Palmer elected as new member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Acker-Palmer's research concentrates on the parallels of network formation during vascularization and neuronal development. She was recruited to Frankfurt by the Cluster of Excellence in 2007 and is a group leader in BMLS since 2010. Link to
German press release

1st August 2012
2013 ASBMB William C. Rose Award goes to BMLS Director Ivan Dikic

The Award honors the pioneering work of Ivan Dikic in understanding the Ubiquitin code, and his efforts in training and education of young scientists.

Link to Press Release

More about Ivan Dikic
Online link

18th July 2012
A new toolkit for monitoring endogenous Ubiquitin.

BMLS scientists developed specific Ubiquitin biosensors for in vivo application. This approach might mark a major technical breakthrough in detection of Ubiquitin signals in living cells. It is published in today's online issue of Molecular Cell. Link to
full article
or Read more.

15th June 2012
CEF successful in new round of Excellence Initiative

The Joint Commission of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the German Council of Science and Humanities confirmed today that CEF is one of the Clusters of Excellence to receive funding in the new round of the German Excellence Initiative. This new multi-million Euro grant will begin in November 2012 and will last for five years. It confirms the high quality and international competitiveness of the CEF's research.
Read more.

7th February 2012
Sponsorship of FMLS by Josef Buchmann sealed.

The Frankfurt businessman and patron Josef Buchmann is supporting the FMLS with a substantial donation. As a sign of gratitude and to underscore the important role of Josef Buchmann and his wife Bareket in supporting research at the Goethe University, the FMLS will henceforth be named Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences. Link to
German press release.

January 2012
Volker Dötsch receives 1M Euro for Reinhart Kosseleck Project

he FMLS Vice Director and Professor at the Institute of Biophysical Chemistry of the Goethe University Frankfurt has been granted 1 M by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for a project building on his previously published results on genetic quality control in oocytes. Read more about this research area. Link to
German Press Release.

January 2012
Martin Grininger joins the FMLS

Following his successful application for a Lichtenberg Professorship of the Volkswagen Foundation, Martin Grininger has moved from the MPI of Biochemistry in Munich to establish his new group at the FMLS. His research is focussed on Megasynthases. These protein complexes produce bioactive natural products in various microorganisms, which are often applied as antibiotics. Martin Grininger aims to copy the natural pathways for the synthesis of new pharmaceutical drugs.

December 2011
Award-winning video

PhD student Daniel von Wangenheim from the Stelzer Group wins the 2nd prize in the 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition. His video shows a Arabidopsis thaliana lateral root growing out of the primary root. A stack of 233 images was recorded every 15 minutes over a period of 75 hours using light-sheet based fluorescence microscopy (mDSLM). Link to

16th December 2011
Opening Ceremony

for the FMLS, Biologicum and Otto-Stern-Zentrum on Riedberg campus - link to livestream, to German press release, and to the scientific symposium which took place in the morning to mark the day.

1st December 2011
New group leader recruited

Dr Christian Pohl has moved from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York/USA to join the FMLS. His research is focussed on embryonal development in the worm C. elegans, aiming at understanding the molecular mechanisms of head morphogenesis. With the recruitment of Dr Pohl, research into developmental cell biology is substantially strengthened at the FMLS.
Read more.

November 2011
Simin Rahighi receives an EMBO longterm postdoctoral fellowship

EMBO will fund her work for the next two years. Her proposal is focused on understanding the role of linear ubiquitylation in regulation of apoptotic cell death.

20th October 2011
Volker Dötsch elected to EMBO membership

I The FMLS Vice Director and Professor at the Institute of Biophysical Chemistry of the Goethe University Frankfurt has been elected by EMBO as one of 46 new members from 14 countries. By awarding life-long membership, EMBO acknowledges the outstanding scientific contribution of Volker Dötsch and his commitment to research excellence.


August 2011
Completion of FMLS building

After only two years of construction time, the new FMLS building has now been finished. Seven groups from a wide range of disciplines have moved in already, creating a vibrant scientific atmosphere. The building offers excellent conditions for cutting edge research in Life Sciences, bridging the gaps between Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. It houses a first-class Electron Microscopy Facility, a dedicated Crystal Facility, and the Frankfurt Centre for Advanced Light Microscopy (FCAM).


30th June 2011
Chaperone system resolved

Newly synthesized proteins are fragile and could never reach their proper functional state and their correct destination without the protection of chaperones. As reported in the latest online issue of Science, FMLS deputy director Volker Dötsch was now involved in solving the molecular mechanisms of one such system.

26th May 2011
New defense mechanism against Salmonella elucidated

After infection with Salmonella, epithelial cells can get rid of the unwanted invader by a process called autophagy. In today's issue of the journal Science, an international group of scientists around FMLS director Ivan Dikic describes how selectivity is achieved in this process.


6th April 2011
The world's smallest wedding rings

FMLS scientist Alexander Heckel and his PhD student Thorsten Schmidt succeed in creating two interlocking rings of DNA only 18 nanometers in size. Such a structure is called a catenan, and it sets a milestone in the field of DNA nanotechnology.


1st April 2011
New group leader recruited

Dr. Martin Vabulas from the MPI of Biochemistry in Martinsried will join the FMLS in April 2011. Martin Vabulas is an expert in proteasome function and protein quality control mechanisms. His group aims at identifying molecular events which lead to the collapse of the protein network in diseases like Alzheimer's and during aging.

31st Mar 2011
A step towards understanding chronic dermatitis

An international team of scientists led by FMLS director Ivan Dikic discovered a novel role for the protein SHARPIN in immune signalling. In today's issue of Nature, they show how SHARPIN stimulates formation of linearized ubiquitin chains, triggering activation of a central regulator of immune responses.
Read more.

21st Mar 2011
Japan Tsunami Appeal

The FMLS & CEF Offices are collecting donations for the Japanese Red Cross Society until the end of March. If you wish to participate in this effort, please visit the office or use the following links to find information of how to donate directly to theJapanese Red Cross or to the German Red Cross.

18th Feb 2011
Fatal quality control in oocytes

Maintaining genomic stability in the female germline is extremely important for all species. Together with others, the group of FMLS scientist Volker Dötsch has now revealed how the activity of quality control factor p63 is regulated in oocytes. Upon DNA damage, conformation of the protein changes to an active tetramer, initiating death of damaged oocytes. Their results are published today in the journal Cell.


Feb 2011
Lígia Gomes receives a long-term FEBS fellowship and commences her work within the Dikic/Dötsch group at the FMLS.

Her project is focused on the regulation of selective autophagy. FEBS is funding her position for one year, with the option of renewal to up to 3 years.

16th Jan 2011
Directing worms with light

FMLS scientist Alexander Gottschalk has shown for the first time how the movement of an animal can be reliably and precisely directed through light impulses. The new technology was published online today in Nature Methods.
Read more
or watch video.

24th Nov 2010
One ubiquitin, 1000s of partners

Ubiquitin signals and ubiquitin-binding domains are implicated in almost every cellular process. But how is this wide spectrum of functionality achieved? How does ubiquitin find the correct target? Ivan Dikic and colleagues reviewed technological advances in monitoring the dynamics and specificity of ubiquitin networks in the journal Cell. Read more or listen to interview with Prof Ivan Dikic.

Sep 2010
Frankfurt researcher is admitted to the German Academy of Sciences

Ivan Dikic, member of the Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes (CEF) and the Scientific Director of the CEF-funded FMLS, is elected a member of the Leopoldina. The Leopoldina is Germany's National Academy that elects distinguished scientists from all over the world and advises the government on scientific issues and encourages an exchange of ideas with academies abroad and international scientists.


Jul 2010
Digital Fly Embryo

CEF Investigator Ernst Stelzer and colleagues from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, the University of Heidelberg and the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York have created the Fly Digital Embryo. In work reported on 4 July 2010 in the journal Nature Methods, they were able to film the development of fruit flys as well as that the eyes and midbrain of zebra fish. Recording light-microscopy images of large, nontransparent specimens, such as developing multicellular organisms, is complicated by decreased contrast resulting from light scattering.


15th Jun 2010
CEF successful in new round of Excellence Initiative

The Joint Commission of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the German Council of Science and Humanities announced today that the Cluster of Excellence Frankfurt Macromolecular Complexes (CEF) will receive funding in the 2nd phase of the German Excellence Initiative. The Buchmann Institute was founded as part of the CEF in 2009, and the continuation of CEF will boost further excellent research at the Institute.


6th May 2010
New target for tumor therapy - Nature letter: When drugs could permanently disrupt the pathological formation of blood vessels

As from a specific size, solid tumors form a capillary network of blood vessels that grows along with them. One therapy approach is to suppress growth of blood vessels to starve the tumor. Drugs so far used in the clinic block the vessel growth factor VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor). However, there is growing evidence that tumors can avoid or become resistant to this blockade. Little is known about how this takes place since the sprouting of blood vessels (angiogenesis) is not understood in detail yet.


22nd Dec 2009
CEF successful in new round of Excellence Initiative

For research focused on cancer it is important to understand the regulation of growth factors which are responsible for the proliferation and differentiation of cells. Growth hormones signal to the cell via receptors that are positioned in the cell membrane. When an extracellular growth factor docks on its receptor, the membrane area surrounding it invaginates and gets cut off. Enclosed in a small bubble (vesicel) inside the cell the receptor is transported to other membrane enclosed compartments where it can signal to the cell to proliferate or to migrate.


Upcoming Events

BMLS Seminar

Day: every Thursday during termtime

Start: 12:00 noon

3rd floor seminar room
Max-von-Laue-Str. 15

Sino-German MegaSyn Symposium 2022
10-12 October 2022

Title: Metabolic and megaenzyme engineering for the biosynthesis of lipids and natural compounds
Host: Martin Grininger

iMOL Guest Seminar

Mads Bergholt, King's College London, UK
18 November 2022

Title: Raman spectroscopy in biomedical research and clinical diagnostics
Start: 11 am
Host: Annika Häßler (Windbergs group)
Location: Biocenter (N100), Seminar room 0.15, Max von Laue Str. 9, Riedberg Campus



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