Head of the "Centre for Plant Genome Engineering (CPGE)", Institut of Plant Biochemistry, HHU (beginning in August 2020)
You will be head of the "Centre for Plant Genome Engineering (CPGE)" at the Institute of Plant Biochemistry. What is the idea of this Centre and what will you do there?
The centre was founded to strengthen the activities of CEPLAS with regard to the targeted genome modification of plants. This includes classical transgenic approaches but of course also the use of new methods of targeted mutagenesis, better known as CRISPR/Cas technology. The aim will be to establish suitable tissue culture systems for plant species that are in the research focus within CEPLAS, which will enable genetic transformation and thus genome modification. Of course, there will also be enough room for own research to develop new systems or improve existing ones.
What are your main objectives with the new Centre and what focus do you see in your new work?
To give it a start, the main goal will be to get a better overview of all CEPLAS activities and to get in contact with the participating scientists. Afterwards I will be able to better assess where the greatest need is and act accordingly. With some members of CEPLAS I have already cooperated in the past. Of course, I would like to continue and extend these cooperation’s. Ideally, the centre will develop into a competent partner for all future CEPLAS projects that aim at genome modification.
Where did you work before and what was your research focus?
For the last 20 years I have been working at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben. My last position was laboratory manager in the research group of Jochen Kumlehn. There I developed efficient transformation protocols for cereals, especially barley and wheat, and was involved in the discovery of a system for host-induced gene silencing of pathogenic fungi. After the discovery of the targeted mutagenesis methods TALEN and CRISPR, we immediately tried to adapt these systems for our crop species. Using these methods, I was able to contribute to a variety of plant research questions, such as spike architecture and chloroplast development. Furthermore, I am interested in the production of recombinant proteins in cereal grains, also known as molecular farming.