ERC-Consolidator Grant Awarded to Biochemist and Protein Crystallographer Professor Oliver Daumke

Professor Daumke investigates the structure and function of proteins which bind to cellular membranes and are involved in the remodeling of their shape. These proteins play a key role in the development of many diseases, such as cancer, diabetes or infections.

With the ERC funding, Daumke plans to investigate the mitochondria, which mediate energy production of the cell, and intends to focus his research on their internal structure and dynamics. Not only do the mitochondria play an important role in cell metabolism, but also in apoptosis, a program of the body to eliminate excess or damaged cells.

From the study of these important cell organelles, Daumke hopes to gain a precise molecular understanding of mitochondria-based diseases. These include cancer and many neurodegenerative diseases.

The 39-year-old researcher came to the MDC as Helmholtz Junior Researcher in 2007 from the Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. In September 2010 he became a junior professor at the Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the joint medical department of Freie Universität (FU) Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU).

In September 2013 Oliver Daumke was appointed W3 Professor for Structural Biology at Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. It is a joint appointment with the MDC, a member of the Helmholtz Association.

Oliver Daumke grew up in Freiburg/Breisgau. He studied biology there, was an exchange student at the University of Sussex in Brighton (England) and then continued and completed his studies at the University of Cologne. He wrote his dissertation at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund under the supervision of Prof. Alfred Wittinghofer.

He has received numerous awards, including the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award in 2010, a scholarship from the Human Frontier Science Program, the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society and the Klaus Liebrecht Prize of the University of Cologne for the best dissertation.

Including Professor Daumke, altogether 11 MDC scientists have received one of the highly endowed ERC grants: Professor Thomas Willnow, Professor Michael Gotthardt, Dr. Zsuzsanna Izsvák, Professor Thomas Jentsch (MDC and Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie, FMP), Professor Gary Lewin, Dr. Jan Siemens (now University of Heidelberg), Professor Klaus Rajewsky, Dr. Matthew Poy, Dr. James Poulet (MDC/Charité) and Dr. Francesca Spagnoli.

Barbara Bachtler
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