Career news

New Einstein Professor at Humboldt University

Ann Ehrenhofer-Murray was appointed to new chair of molecular biology.

31. 7. 2013 | The successful biologist started work in Berlin this month, coming from the University of Duisburg-Essen. Prof. Ehrenhofer-Murray will focus on epigenetics in her research. The Einstein Foundation Berlin co-finances the laboratory equipment for her chair.
Prof. Ann Ehrenhofer-Murray
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Prof. Ann Ehrenhofer-Murray
Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA. These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for multiple generations. At the University of Duisburg-Essen, Ehrenhofer-Murray and her research group studied how DNA is organized and packaged into chromatin in the eukaryotic nucleus. Differences in chromatin packaging also determine where and when genes are expressed and which genomic regions are constantly silenced. In these processes, histones, the basic packaging units, are enzymatically modified. Prof. Ehrenhofer-Murrays research group studied the molecular mechanisms of epigenetic gene silencing and chromatin modifications using yeast as a model organism.

Ann Ehrenhofer-Murray, who is both a Swiss and British national, was born in 1966. She studied biochemistry at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and received her PhD there in 1994. For her doctoral thesis, she worked on multidrug resistance genes in yeasts. For her postdoctoral studies, she moved to the lab of Professor Jasper Rine at the University of California, Berkeley, to study gene silencing and DNA replication in yeast. In 1997 she started her own research group at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, and obtained the habilitation from the Humboldt University Berlin in 2003. After a brief stint at the Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen in 2004 and 2005, she obtained a full professorship for genetics at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Epigenetics is a cross-cutting topic, involving the fields of genetics, molecular biology, and systems biology. In Berlin, Prof. Ehrenhofer-Murray plans to cooperate closely with the structural and systems biologists. Future medical applications of her research are also a possibility, for instance in cancer or anti-aging therapies. "This new Einstein professorship strengthens the life sciences in Berlin", Prof. Martin Grötschel states. He is chairman of the executive board of the Einstein Foundation Berlin.   (© Einstein Foundation Berlin, AcademiaNet)
Christian Martin

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