News & Views

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© WWU/Erk Wibberg

Faculty of Medicine receives funding for research-active physicians

The University of Münster will expand its career support programme for clinician scientists who combine both clinical work and research – so that their patient-oriented perspective can help shape future medical care based on new research results. The German Research Foundation is funding the programme with more than two million euros.

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© AG Rentmeister

Biochemists use new tool to control mRNA by means of light

A team of researchers led by biochemist Prof Andrea Rentmeister discovered that by using so-called FlashCaps they were able to control the translation of mRNA by means of light. The results have been published in the journal “Nature Chemistry”.

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© Maximilian Rüttermann / AG Gatsogiannis

7.5 million euros for cryo-electron microscopy

A boost for research with cutting-edge imaging methods: Through a grant from the German Research Foundation, researchers from the University of Münster, working with structural biologist Prof Christos Gatsogiannis, will receive equipment for high-performance cryo-electron microscopy. Numerous research groups will use these instruments to make molecular processes in cells visible and examine particles, such as viruses, in three dimensions.

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New Collaborative Research Centre studies the biology of immune cells

The German Research Foundation has approved the new CRC/TRR 332 “Neutrophils: Origin, Fate & Function”. This network brings together researchers from the three applicant Universities of Münster (spokesperson: Prof Oliver Söhnlein), Munich and Duisburg-Essen as well as cooperation partners from Dresden and Dortmund.

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© WWU/Münster View

“ERC Advanced Grants” for Lydia Sorokin and Christian Weinheimer

Two members of “Cells in Motion” receive a major award from the European Research Council. CiM spokesperson Prof Lydia Sorokin will use the several million-euros grant to mimic components of the blood-brain barrier in 3D models to study factors that affect its permeability to immune cells. Particle physicist Prof Christian Weinheimer works on measurements of hypothetically predicted particles that might constitute dark matter.

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© WWU/Erk Wibberg

Profession: Physician and scientist

Medical professional Nadine Heiden is training to become a specialist physician while actively pursuing research. “I always wanted to do both,” she says – and a close connection between research and patient care can only be beneficial. Although the dual qualification is challenging, Nadine Heiden provides insight into how it is working out for her.

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© Studiotouch – stock.adobe.com

Fruit flies adapt their activity to “white nights”

Fruit flies with a new variant of a “clock gene” are spreading northwards. A team led by neurobiologists Prof Ralf Stanewsky and Dr Angélique Lamaze at the University has now found an explanation for this phenomenon. The study was published in the journal “Nature Communications”

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© WWU/AG Stanewsky

New findings on the internal clock of the fruit fly

Most living organisms have an internal clock which controls the sleep-wake rhythm. This rhythm lasts approximately one day (“circadian”), is regulated by means of various “clock genes” and coordination with factors such as light and temperature. A research team led by neurobiologist Prof. Ralf Stanewsky has demonstrated in fruit flies that a certain ion transport protein (“KCC”) plays a role in regulating circadian rhythms by means of light.

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© MPI

“ERC Consolidator Grant” for biologist Ivan Bedzhov

Biologist Dr Ivan Bedzhov, a research group leader at the MPI in Münster and a member of several research networks at the University of Münster, receives funding from the European Research Council amounting to two million euros for five years. He will use the funding to study how mammalian embryos preserve their viability and developmental potential for extended periods of time in a state of suspended animation.

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© WWU /Laura Grahn

Biochemist Andrea Rentmeister receives “ERC Proof of Concept Grant”

Biochemist Prof. Andrea Rentmeister has been awarded a Proof of Concept Grant, worth 150,000 euros, from the European Research Council. Together with business chemist Prof. Jens Leker, she is now working out how to make a marketable product out of a method she has developed to activate mRNA. This method enables scientists to use light to control biochemical processes inside living cells.

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First 3D structure of regulator protein revealedFirst 3D structure of regulator protein revealed
© WWU/AG Kümmel

First 3D structure of regulator protein revealed

A team of researchers led by biochemist Prof. Daniel Kümmel from the University of Münster, together with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, has clarified the structure of the protein complex “Mon1/Ccz1” which is an important regulator of cellular degradation processes. This complex belongs to a family of regulators which are involved in a range of cellular processes and for which no structural information previously existed.

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© WWU/Thomas Hauss

“Already as a child I knew I wanted to be a scientist”

Biochemist Prof Lydia Sorokin investigates how protein structures surrounding cells in tissues can influence their function. Here, in the interview, she talks about her work as a scientist, her love of nature and digital formats for exchanging knowledge with international colleagues.

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Science on the Christmas treeScience on the Christmas tree
© WWU/CiM - S. Kudruk, S. Pottanam Chali, B.J. Ravoo, V. Gerke/Adv Sci 2021

Science on the Christmas tree

Do you recognize what's shining on our Christmas ball this year? Every year it is adorned with an image from our research that illuminates the inner workings of cells and organisms. Using imaging techniques, scientists make structures and processes that are normally hidden from the human eye visible and investigate how cells behave within organisms. We hope you have lots of fun reading about the image and making your decorations. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2022!

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“You do really need to believe that you’re equal”“You do really need to believe that you’re equal”
© WWU/Doris Niederhoff

“You do really need to believe that you’re equal”

Dr Noelia Alonso Gonzalez recently became Professor of Macrophage Biology at the University of Münster. Her career springboard was a programme run by the research network “Cells in Motion”, which aimed to increase the proportion of women in leadership positions. In a video, the researcher and mother talks about her career path, international mobility and gender equality.

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Millions in funding for Collaborative Research Centre on dynamic cellular interfacesMillions in funding for Collaborative Research Centre on dynamic cellular interfaces
© privat / WWU/Jean-Marie Tronquet
© privat

Millions in funding for Collaborative Research Centre on dynamic cellular interfaces

The Collaborative Research Centre 1348 “Dynamic Cellular Interfaces: Formation and Function” at Münster University, which has been running since 2018, will receive approximately 10 million euros for a second funding period of four years by the German Research Foundation. The network investigates molecular mechanisms at contact points between cells that regulate cell differentiation as well as the development and function of tissues.

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Sufficient energy supply decisive for nerve developmentSufficient energy supply decisive for nerve development
© WWU/AG Sebastian Rumpf

Sufficient energy supply decisive for nerve development

Using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model, an interdisciplinary research team headed by biologist Dr Sebastian Rumpf from the University of Münster looked into whether energy is needed for the developmental degradation of nerve connections which takes place in the flies during metamorphosis.

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Researchers detect a diffusion barrier inside fly brainResearchers detect a diffusion barrier inside fly brain
© WWU/Nicole Pogodalla, Christian Klämbt

Researchers detect a diffusion barrier inside fly brain

A team of researchers led by biologist Prof Christian Klämbt from the University of Münster has shown that, in addition to the already known blood-brain barrier, there is a second barrier in the brain of fruit flies. Here glial cells, too, ensure a spatial separation of different functional compartments. The study was published in “Nature Communications”.

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“I feel that being a scientist is the best profession ever”“I feel that being a scientist is the best profession ever”
© WiS

“I feel that being a scientist is the best profession ever”

Young scientists from the Cells in Motion Interfaculty Centre talked to Prof Sara Wickström – who has just been appointed director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster – about her personal path in research, the challenges faced by female researchers and the prerequisites for a successfully managed research group.

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“Feeling” the living cell’s life cycle using optical tweezers“Feeling” the living cell’s life cycle using optical tweezers
© Sebastian Hurst

“Feeling” the living cell’s life cycle using optical tweezers

A research team from the Universities of Göttingen and Münster, headed by biophysicist Prof Timo Betz, has investigated the mechanical properties of cells during mitosis using optical tweezers. The scientists revealed that during mitosis, biological cells soften their interior, become more fluid inside, and activity within the cell is reduced, while the shell stiffens and rounds. The study was published in “Nature Physics”.

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Cell labelling method from microscopy implemented for PET imagingCell labelling method from microscopy implemented for PET imaging

Cell labelling method from microscopy implemented for PET imaging

A research team led by biochemist Prof Andrea Rentmeister and nuclear medicine specialist Prof Michael Schäfers has, for the first time, utilised so-called SNAP-tag technology to radioactively label cells in living organisms. The method opens up the prospect of examining cells with different imaging techniques and at different temporal stages. The study was published in “Chemical Communications”.

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B cells of the immune system discovered in the meningesB cells of the immune system discovered in the meninges
© Schafflick D, Wolbert J, Heming M et al./Nat Neurosci 2021

B cells of the immune system discovered in the meninges

A research team headed by neurologist Dr Gerd Meyer zu Hörste has systematically studied which white blood cells populate the tissue surrounding the brain. They discovered that both B cells and their progenitors reside and develop in the outer layer of the meninges. The cells may have special immune system functions there and play a role in inflammatory brain diseases. The study was published in “Nature Neuroscience”.

© WWU/Sophie Pieper

Funding for a Medical Scientists Programme at Münster University

The University of Münster receives funding for a “Medical Scientists Kolleg” in “Dynamics of Inflammatory Reactions”. The programme will support postdocs and strengthen collaboration between basic research in the natural sciences and application in patients. For this purpose, the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation will provide one million euros for four years.

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© Kudruk & Pottanam Chali et al./Adv Sci 2021 (modified colours)

Newly developed, bioinspired cell delivery vehicles

A research team headed by chemist Prof Bart Jan Ravoo and biochemist Prof Volker Gerke has designed nanocontainers made of sugar and protein components. These containers are taken up by cells through natural processes and can thereby transport substances that normally cannot penetrate the cell membrane – such as drugs or labelled substances for the investigation of cell functions – into cells. The study was published in “Advanced Science”.

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First synthetic tissue model in which blood vessels can growFirst synthetic tissue model in which blood vessels can grow
© Liu et al./Nat Comm 2021

First synthetic tissue model in which blood vessels can grow

A research team headed by biomedical engineer Dr Britta Trappmann has developed a cell culture system in which, for the first time, a functional blood vessel system is able to grow within a framework made of synthetic material. The team investigates which material properties promote individual parameters of vessel formation – a step towards the futuristic vision of implantable artificial tissues. The study was published in “Nature Communications”.

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© WWU/Laura Grahn

Honour for chemist from the University of Münster

The "Royal Society of Chemistry" has elected Prof. Andrea Rentmeister as a Fellow. It thus honours the chemist's achievements in the field of biomolecular labelling chemistry. "I am delighted about this international recognition and, in addition to visibility, I am looking forward to new networking opportunities, especially with British researchers," Andrea Rentmeister emphasises.