Project Extension includes Phage Research
Max Planck Research Group "Bacterial Epitranscriptomics" joins JLU Gießen`s Research Training Group
The Research Training Group (GRK) on regulatory networks of ribonucleic acids (RNAs) at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) has been extended by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for another four and a half years. This means that starting in January 2023, almost six million euros will flow into research on RNA-based gene regulation at JLU and its partner institutions.
This second funding period now also includes the research group of Dr. Katharina Höfer at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg. This is because, starting in 2023, further RNA research priorities are supposed to be strengthened for another 4.5 years - among others, in virology.
The researchers investigate RNA-mediated gene regulatory networks in model organisms such as mammals, yeasts and bacteria. The focus ranges from the molecular basis of gene expression - the process by which genetic information is transcribed and made usable by the cell - to disease-related questions in molecular medicine and innovative applications of RNA biotechnology.
"The most wonderful thing about this graduate program is that RNA-based mechanisms will be explored in a wide range of organisms - from phages and bacteria to yeasts and higher eukaryotes," says Dr. Katharina Höfer. " Here, we hope to identify and understand evolutionary common, and thus fundamental, mechanisms."
Katharina Höfer's own field of research is particularly unexplored territory: she is working on phages, viruses that infect and kill bacteria. "We still know very little about the mechanisms that take place with regard to RNA here. At the same time, there is a chance that previously completely unknown mechanisms could be discovered," Höfer explains.
The research project also includes viruses that infect human cells. "The importance of this research was demonstrated most recently by the Corona pandemic and the development of mRNA vaccines," emphasized JLU President Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, who warmly congratulated those involved in the project. "The extension allows us to continue our excellent doctoral training in RNA biology."
The Research Training Group serves to train doctoral students who are regionally linked by the common research topic and supervised by the network of research group leaders. Accordingly, there is also currently a vacant position in Katharina Höfer's research group for a doctorate in RNA research - an area of research with a great future.