Ulrike Gaul comes to CIPSM! Germany, Munich – the house is rocking.

2008, published on 17.10.2008
We are very happy that Ulrike Gaul, professor of molecular biology at Rockefeller University New York, will join CIPSM at the Gene Center in 2009 as a newly established CIPSM full professor. This CIPSM professorship for molecular systems biology has been selected for the first Alexander von Humboldt professorship ever to be awarded and comes with an prize money of five million EUR. With Ulrike Gaul joins the second top scientist from the USA CIPSM this year. Just in August Dirk Trauner, professor for organic chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, moved with his research group to CIPSM. This shows among other gravitys like newly established state of the art equipment platforms, that Germany’s research community, especially in Munich, is teaming up to become the hot spot of the scene.   Ulrike Gaul is an internationally leading development biologist whose work on the fruit fly drosophila has contributed enormously to our understanding of gene regulation during organismic development and the role of glial cells in the nervous system. Her laboratory has discovered many new genes that control the formation of the blood-brain barrier and the efficient elimination of dying neurons by glia. In recent years, Gaul has been increasingly interested in how to decrypt and make a quantitative description of the complex genetic networks underlying embryonic pattern formation. Her work on regulating gene transcription and translation in early development, which has often involved working with physicists and bioinformaticians, is pioneering for linking organismic biology with the quantitative analysis of systems biology. Gaul will use the award money associated with the Humboldt professorship to establish a new research focus in molecular systems biology at the Gene Center of CIPSM. This research focus will complement the existing strengths of the Gene Center. The newly elected laureate is exhilarated about the distinction. "Combined with this very attractive offer from LMU and CIPSM, the Humboldt professorship will give me working conditions that are very hard to find in the US.” But it is not just the financial backing that incites her to move to Germany. “LMU and Munich are an excellent environment for my work,” says Gaul. “I really like the hands-on, collegial spirit everyone has in Munich, the cosmopolitan, fun-loving character of the city and the general spirit of optimism you feel in German science.”   About Systems Biology Systems biology is based to genome and proteome research, and will play a pivotal role in the biosciences in the future. The aim of this interdisciplinary research field is not only to create a catalogue of all molecules participating in specific cellular processes but also, and above all, to understand and quantify the interplay of molecules in complex networks. One aim is to develop models for making predictions of the behavior of living cells. By closely combining biochemical, genomic and mathematical methods, the researchers at the Gene Center in Munich intend to explain the principles of gene regulation in higher cells and organisms, which will give fresh impetus to cancer and dementia research as well as the development of stem cell therapies. The head of the Gene Center, Professor Patrick Cramer, is especially delighted that, with Ulrike Gaul, LMU has gained a top international researcher for the Gene Center and the national cluster of excellence for protein sciences CIPSM: “The appointment of Ulrike Gaul is our fifth appointment from the US since 2001.“ The Humboldt professorship is a special distinction for Gaul, but also for her future colleagues here in Munich: “It is very important," says Cramer, “to recruit only the very best. I am very grateful for everyone who helped make this appointment happen. Appointing Gaul is a central aspect of our strategy for expanding into the future field of systems biology and, with it, for further increasing the international visibility and scientific capacity of the Gene Center and the CIPSM cluster of excellence. We can once again assert our leading role in establishing innovative biological research within Europe.”   Vita Professor Ulrike Gaul Professor Ulrike Gaul studied biochemistry and physics in Tübingen, and received her doctorate in 1988 at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology under Professor Herbert Jäckle. After research visits to the University of Washington and University of California in Berkeley, she has been a professor since 1993 at Rockefeller University in New York, one of the world’s leading biomedical research centers. Gaul plans to move with her group to the Gene Center of CIPSM in the spring of 2009.   Alexander von Humboldt Professorships The most valuable international award for research in Germany is being granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (www.humboldt-foundation.de) globally leading academics of all disciplines working abroad. The award is valued at up to five million EUR and is designed to allow the winners to spend five years working on ground-breaking research at German universities. The award ceremony will take place in Berlin in May 2009. “I am delighted that we have been able to nominate outstanding candidates for the award. The Alexander von Humboldt Professorship is a strong argument for convincing cutting-edge researchers from all over the world to come to Germany,” Federal Minister of Research, Dr. Annette Schavan, commented in Berlin on Wednesday. “We are making an important contribution to maintaining a permanent position for Germany in the top international league,” Schavan said.

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