Director: Prof. Ivan Dikic
Institute of Biochemistry II
University Hospital Frankfurt
Theodor-Stern-Kai 7 / Building 75
60590 Frankfurt am Main
Office: +49 (0) 69 6301 4546
Lab1: +49 (0) 69 6301 4862
Lab2: +49 (0) 69 6301 83752
Fax: +49 (0) 69 6301 5577
Born in Zagreb (Croatia), Ivan Dikic was trained as a medical doctor in his hometown before joining the lab of Joseph Schlessinger in New York in 1992 to pursue a PhD thesis in molecular biology. He moved back to Europe in 1997 to start his own group at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Uppsala (Sweden). In 2002, Ivan accepted a professorship at Goethe University and was appointed as director of the Institute of Biochemistry II in 2009. He took over from Werner Müller-Esterl, who had been in the lead since 1999 and was now elected as president of Goethe University. In parallel, he was the founding director of the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS), where he until today sustains an outstation lab. He is speaker collaborative research centre on selective autophagy and one of the founders of Frankfurt Cancer Institute. Ivan explores molecular mechanisms of cellular signalling, which have a high relevance to human diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and inflammation. Early on, he started to focus on ubiquitin to understand how this modification controls multiple cellular functions, and managed to prove his concept of ubiquitin signal recognition by specialized domains serving as specific receptors. More recently, his team has revealed the functions of linear ubiquitin chains in pathogen defence and overall immune response. In his latest breakthrough he dissected the mechanism for a novel form of serine ubiquitination that is chemically and functionally distinct from the conventional enzyme cascade. Recognizing the enormous impact of the LC3/GABARAP signalling network, which displays striking mechanistic similarities to ubiquitin, his laboratory also embarked on the field of selective autophagy. His team has provided important insight in the regulatory networks and the structures controlling mitophagy, xenophagy and ER-phagy, shaping host-pathogen interactions and impacting on the development of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS. Ivan is wholeheartedly dedicated to fostering scientific exchange and education, and has contributed to the organization of many international conferences and workshops. In 1998, he initiated the series of Dubrovnik Cell Signalling Conferences, which has been sponsored by EMBO continuously since 2004. He also initiated the Frankfurt Conference Series on Cellular Quality Control. He is an elected member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Academia Europaea. Ivan’s ’s scientific achievements were honoured with numerous awards, amongst them the Ernst Jung Prize and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize in 2013.
Vice-Director: Prof. Stefan Müller
Stefan Müller studied pharmacy at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich before moving into life science research. After graduating, and following his genuine interest in molecular mechanisms underlying pharmacological and physiological effects, he abandoned the classical career path of a pharmacist. Instead, he took a deep dive into basic science and pursued a PhD in biochemical endocrinology at University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf. Stefan first came across SUMO during his postdoctoral studies in the group of Anne Dejean at Pasteur Institute in Paris. Ever since, the molecule that he himself once dubbed as ‘ubiquitin’s mysterious cousin’, dominated his scientific interest. In 2001, he returned to Germany to start his first independent group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (Munich-Martinsried) in the Department of Stefan Jentsch, before accepting a professorship at the Institute of Biochemistry II (IBC2) of Goethe University Frankfurt in 2011. Since 2016, Stefan is also the acting managing director of the Gustav Embden Center for Biological Chemistry, of which IBC2 forms an integral part. Stefan is dedicated to delivering highest quality of student education. He is responsible for teaching curricula in biochemistry at the medical faculty and is leading the Frankfurt Summer School for Medical Students. Stefan investigates post-translational regulation mechanisms in mammalian cells and their impact on nuclear organization, gene expression programs and ribosome biogenesis. His general focus is on the small ubiquitin related modifier (SUMO) system, which plays a major regulatory role in these processes. As a postdoc with Anne Dejean, he was the first to discover that SUMO determines the organization of PML nuclear bodies and the degradation of the oncogenic fusion protein PML-RARα in response to the anti-leukemogenic drug arsenic. Over the past decade, his team played a major role in revealing how the dynamics of SUMO conjugation and deconjugation shapes multiprotein complexes involved in ribosome biogenesis and epigenetic regulation. A main focus of his research is on dissecting the mechanisms of SUMO-mediated protein-protein interactions. His group has elucidated how SUMO recognition domains in target proteins interact with SUMO, thereby controlling cellular signaling pathways. He revealed the regulatory roles for phosphorylation and for acetylation in this process, adding a next layer of complexity in SUMO network control.