DFG announces funding for the new Collaborative Research Centre 1551 at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz


25 November - The German Research Foundation (DFG) has announced the funding of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1551 on “Polymer Concepts in Cellular Function”. This research initiative will be funded for an initial 4 years and will be established at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in collaboration with the Institute of Molecular Biology Mainz (IMB) and the Max Planck Institute of Polymer Research. Researchers in the CRC 1551 will apply theoretical and experimental polymer science concepts such as protein disorder, super-selectivity, multi-component and also fundamental polymer properties like phase separation to biological research questions, thereby opening new ways to understand cellular function, as well as dysfunction in ageing and disease processes.

The CRC 1551 is spearheaded by Prof. Edward Lemke, who is a Professor of Synthetic Biophysics of Protein Disorder at JGU and an Adjunct Director at IMB. Prof. Lemke considers the establishment of this new CRC to be a milestone for Mainz and Germany. “The CRC will become an interdisciplinary think tank where polymer scientists and life scientists come together to study the polymer properties of DNA, RNA and proteins to better understand how the interplay between these biopolymers govern key cellular functions, as well as how it drives cellular dysfunction and ageing. For this purpose, we have put together outstanding teams of researchers from the fields of the life sciences and polymer research”. In total, the DFG will provide ~ €10 million for the funding of the CRC 1551 in its first funding period.

The new CRC will bring together polymer scientists and molecular life scientists from JGU, IMB, the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and UMC in 13 research projects, with 4 supportive service projects. “We will study how biopolymers, including DNA, RNA and disordered proteins, form higher-order complexes or organelles and how they interact to regulate key cellular processes, such as transcription or splicing. In particular, we want to understand how disordered protein regions encode molecular function, but also how aberrant interactions between disordered regions can lead to protein aggregation and neurodegenerative disorders”, says Prof. Dorothee Dormann, Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at JGU, Adjunct Director at IMB and vice spokesperson of the CRC. Thus, the research of CRC 1551 will help scientists gain a better understanding of how cells age on the molecular level and could provide a basis for the development of a new generation of therapeutics.

Further details

Edward Lemke is an Adjunct Director at IMB and a Professor of Synthetic Biophysics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Further information about research in Lemke lab can be found at www.imb.de/lemke and www.lemkelab.com.

Dorothee Dormann is Adjunct Director at IMB and a Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Further information about research in the Dormann lab can be found at www.imb.de/dormann.

About the Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH

The Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB) is a centre of excellence in the life sciences that was established in 2011 on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Research at IMB focuses on the cutting-edge fields of epigenetics, genome stability, ageing and RNA biology. The institute is a prime example of successful collaboration between a private foundation and government: The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has committed 154 million euros to be disbursed from 2009 until 2027 to cover the operating costs of research at IMB. The State of Rhineland-Palatinate has provided approximately 50 million euros for the construction of a state-of-the-art building and is giving a further 52 million in core funding from 2020 until 2027. For more information about IMB, please visit: www.imb.de.

About Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is a globally recognized research-driven university with around 31,000 students from over 120 nations. Its core research areas are in particle and hadron physics, the materials sciences, and translational medicine. JGU's success in Germany's Excellence Strategy program has confirmed its academic excellence: In 2018, the research network PRISMA+ (Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter) was recognized as a Cluster of Excellence – building on its forerunner, PRISMA. Moreover, excellent placings in national and international rankings as well as numerous honors and awards demonstrate the research and teaching quality of Mainz-based researchers and academics. Further information at www.uni-mainz.de/eng

Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that is committed to the promotion of the medical, biological, chemical, and pharmaceutical sciences. It was established in 1977 by Hubertus Liebrecht (1931–1991), a member of the shareholder family of the Boehringer Ingelheim company. Through its Perspectives Programme Plus 3 and its Exploration Grants, the Foundation supports independent junior group leaders. It also endows the international Heinrich Wieland Prize, as well as awards for up-and-coming scientists in Germany. In addition, the Foundation funds institutional projects in Germany, such as the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), the department of life sciences at the University of Mainz, and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. www.bistiftung.de

Press contact for further information

Dr Ralf Dahm, Director of Scientific Management

Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB), Ackermannweg 4, 55128 Mainz, Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 6131 39 21455, Email: press(at)imb.de