Joint Research on RNA Biology

Scientists from the Campus Focus "Microorganisms and Viruses" of the Central Hesse Research Campus visit the University of Wisconsin - Madison

December 12, 2022

To intensify cross-continent networking and strengthen collaboration, the Central Hesse Research Campus supports reciprocal visits with the "Blended Networking Wisconsin - Central Hesse" project. Now Katharina Höfer, research group leader at the MPI in Marburg, visited the University of Wisconsin together with research colleagues from Justus Liebig University Giessen as part of the campus program "Microorganisms and Viruses". The meeting focused on RNA biology.

The ties between the state of Hesse and Wisconsin are close: a partnership between the JLU and the University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW-Madison) exists for almost 40 years. Numerous students from the universities in Central Hesse have been able to spend a semester abroad in the U.S. as part of the Hesse-Wisconsin State Program; scientists from various disciplines have been working together successfully for many years. To intensify networking across continents and expand collaboration, the Central Hesse Research Campus is promoting reciprocal visits with the "Blended Networking Wisconsin - Central Hesse" project, also to initiate new joint research projects. Three scientists from the Universities of Giessen and Marburg now brought back new perspectives for scientific collaborations in biochemistry on the topic of RNA biology to Central Hesse from a research trip to Wisconsin.

As part of the initiative to strengthen scientific collaborations, Prof. Dr. Katja Sträßer, executive director of the Institute of Biochemistry, Dr. Cornelia Kilchert, also at the Institute of Biochemistry at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), and Dr. Katharina Höfer, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, visited the departments of biochemistry and biomolecular chemistry at UW-Madison. They were hosted by biochemists Prof. David Brow, Prof. Aaron Hoskins and Prof. Sam Butcher.

The trip focused entirely on RNA biology. In a jointly organized hybrid symposium involving additional scientists from Giessen, the researchers discussed recent findings on various aspects of RNA biology, including splicing, RNA export, and RNA modification. Replication of corona viruses was also a topic.

The Central Hesse delegation also had the opportunity to visit research facilities such as the National Magnetic Resonance Facility, the Biophysics Instrumentation Facility and Biochemistry Optical Core, the Cryo-Electron Microscopy Research Center and the National Center for Quantitative Biology of Complex Systems at UW-Madison. Discussions also took place between UW-Madison researchers and the German guests to initiate joint research projects.

“UW-Madison and the universities in Hessen both have amazing research strengths in RNA biology and biochemistry with many shared research interests,” Hoskins says. “We hope that not only will this visit lead to new international collaborations between individual labs, but also to new programs that facilitate reciprocal exchange of graduate students and postdocs between UW–Madison and Germany that catalyze outstanding science and training.” Prof. Sträßer adds that her two fellow travelers and she spent fantastic and excellently organized days at UW-Madison, which provided broad insight into the RNA research landscape as well as new scientific contacts: "I look forward to our joint RNA future with excitement and joy.'"

Blended Networking Wisconsin – Central Hessen: The project "Blended Networking Wisconsin - Central Hessen" promotes the networking of FCMH researchers with scientists from Wisconsin in order to initiate joint research collaborations. The collaborative project of the three FCMH universities is funded by the Hessian State Chancellery and the Consulate General Frankfurt. Through the end of April 2023, researchers can use travel funds for delegation trips to Wisconsin and to invite Wisconsin delegations. To date, the Research Campus has been able to support six consortia from the three Central Hesse universities in traveling to initiate collaborations under the program.

Campus Focus „Microorganisms and Viruses“: Recognizing overarching strategies of microbes and viruses as well as their interaction with each other and with the host is the central goal of the joint research activities of the researchers in the Campus Focus "Microorganisms and Viruses" of the Research Campus Mittehlhessen (FCMH).  Website of the Campus Focus „Microorganisms and Viruses“:

Original source: Press release from “Forschungcampus Mittelhessen”

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