Helle Ulrich awarded highly prestigious ERC Advanced Grant to study how damaged DNA is managed by cells

Scientific Director at the Institute of Molecular Biology receives funding of EUR 2.5 million

20.03.2013

Professor Helle Ulrich, a Scientific Director at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz, has been awarded a highly prestigious ERC Advanced Grant. The EUR 2.5 million award will enable Ulrich to develop cutting-edge methods and approaches with which to study the mechanism that allows cells to accurately replicate even though their DNA is damaged.

When DNA is replicated it is vulnerable to decay. The ability of cells to deal with this stress is a major factor in protecting our genomes from instability and cancer. A key mechanism allowing cells to overcome such damage is DNA damage bypass and post-replication repair. However, this process has to be very tightly regulated as it can itself lead to genomic instability if not correctly controlled. Professor Helle Ulrich will investigate how this regulation occurs by developing new methods and technologies that will allow her to introduce DNA damage at specific locations in cell genomes. How this damage is processed will subsequently be imaged in live cells.

Particular attention will be paid to determining how post-translational modifications of the DNA-clamp protein PCNA coordinate the process of post-replication repair in conjunction with other interacting proteins. The award will fund this research for five years and will support a total of three postdoctoral researchers, two PhD students and a technician.

ERC Advanced Grants support projects that are highly ambitious, pioneering and unconventional. They are awarded to recognized research leaders proposing projects with the possibility of producing major breakthroughs of importance to a wide range of fields.

 

About the Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH

The Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB) is a center of excellence in the life sciences that was established in 2011 on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Research at IMB concentrates on three cutting-edge areas: epigenetics, developmental biology, and genome stability. The institute is a prime example of a successful collaboration between public authorities and a private foundation. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has dedicated EUR 100 million for a period of ten years to cover the operating costs for research at IMB, while the state of Rhineland-Palatinate provided approximately EUR 50 million for the construction of a state-of-the-art building.

About the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization 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 company Boehringer Ingelheim. With the PLUS 3 Perspectives Program and the Exploration Grants, the foundation supports independent group leaders. It also endows the internationally renowned Heinrich Wieland Prize as well as awards for up-and-coming scientists. In addition, the foundation pledged to donate EUR 100 million to finance the scientific running of the IMB at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz for ten years. In 2013, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation donated a further EUR 50 million to Mainz University.