Short CV/Education and training

  • Academic employment:

  • August 2016 – Present Professor Chair: Neurobiology of Ion Channels, Department of Neurosciences, Medical Physiology, University Medical Center Groningen

  • April 2014 – August 2016 Tenure-track assistant professor, Department of Neurosciences, Medical Physiology, University Medical Center Groningen

  • Jan 2009 – April 2014 Tenure-track assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry, University of Groningen

  • Sept 2007- Jan 2009 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, University of Groningen

  • Non-academical employment:

  • Sept 2002- Sept 2007 Senior scientist, BiOMaDe Technology Foundation, Groningen, The Netherland

  • Sept 2001- Sept 2002 Research scientist, BiOMaDe Technology Foundation, Groningen, The Netherland

  • Feb 2001-May 2001 Guest researcher, Ankara University, Medical Faculty, Hepatology Department, Ankara, Turkey,

  • 1999-2000 Popular science writer, Science and Technology Journal (monthly popular science magazine of The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey)

Selected publications

  • A Kocer “Mechanisms of mechanosensing – Mechanosensitive channels, function and re-engineering” Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 29: 120-127 (2015) (invited)

  • J Pacheco-Torres, N Mukherjee, M Walko, P López-Larrubia, P Ballesteros, S Cerdan, A Kocer* “Image Guided Drug Release From pH-sensitive Ion Channel-functionalized Stealth Liposomes into an in vivo Glioblastoma Model” Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 11: 1345-1354 (2015)

  • A. Konijnenberg#, D Yilmaz#, H I Ingólfsson, A Dimitrova, S J Marrink, Z. Lid, C. Vénien-Bryand, F. Sobott*, A. Kocer* “Global structural changes of an ion channel during its gating are followed by ion mobility mass spectrometry” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111: 17170-17175 (2014) (#: equal contribution)

  • M. Urban, Al. Kleefen, N. Mukherjee, B. Windschiegl, P. Seelheim, M. vor der Brüggen, A. Koçer, and R. Tampé* “Semi-automated nanopore biochips for multiplexed parallel single transport recordings” Nano Letters (in press, 2014)( DOI: 10.1021/nl5002873)

  • J. P. Birkner, B. Poolman, A. Koçer* “Hydrophobic gating of Mechanosensitive channel of large conductance evidenced by single-subunit resolution” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109 (32): 12944-12949 (2012) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1205270109

Complete list of publications

Selected projects

  • Fundamental:

    Neurobiology of Ion Channels: Neurobiology of ion channels is concerned with understanding the role of ion channels in the healthy nervous system and elucidating why and how mutated ion channels cause dysfunction. Ion channels are membrane proteins responsible for neuronal excitability, signaling, and ion homeostasis. They are involved in a wide spectrum of essential functions including breathing, hearing, and learning. My goal is to take advantage of the rapidly accumulating genetic information on ion channel disorders of the nervous system, combining it with my expertise on single channel structure-function relations to understand and control the electrical communication between excitable cells. My bottom-up approach is to determine the single channel properties of the wild-type and mutant ion channels and their interactions with the accessory proteins in a well-controlled, artificial, cell-like experimental system. Then, translating the findings back to the cellular level in cultured neurons. Currently, we are working on voltage-gated potassium channel Kv4.3.

  • Mechanosensation at the molecular level: We are investigating how ion channels sense mechanical force at the molecular level. Mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels, present in membranes, are the molecules that sense membrane tension in all species ranging from bacteria to man. In recent years many diseases related to the malfunctioning of MS channels were discovered such as cardiac arrhythmias, polycystic kidney disease, hypertension, glioma, glaucoma, atherosclerosis, and tumorigenesis. In spite of their importance, their working mechanism is still unknown. The “simplest” forms of MS channels from bacteria have been the objects of the study of mechano-sensation for the past decade. They sense changes in membrane tension invoked by osmotic stress and as a response, they undergo structural rearrangements and generate large transient pores in the membrane. Even when isolated from their native membrane environment and reconstituted into artificial membranes composed of synthetic lipids, they are still capable of mechano-sensing and responding to the alteration in membrane tension. The long-term objective of my research is to understand the molecular mechanism of mechano-sensation by analyzing individual forces acting on the system, those of the membrane acting on the protein and those of the protein acting on the membrane.

  • Drug delivery and triggered release at the target site (ion-channel based carriers): To reduce the toxicity and increase the efficacy of drugs, there is a need for smart drug delivery systems. Liposomes are one of the promising tools for this purpose. An ideal liposomal delivery system should be stable, long-circulating, accumulate at the target site and release its drug in a controlled manner. Even though there have been many developments to this end, the dilemma of having a stable liposome during circulation but converting it into a leaky structure at the target site is still a major challenge. So far, most attempts have focused on destabilizing the liposome in response to a specific stimulus at a target site, but with limited success. Our approach is to keep the stable liposome but build in a remote-controlled valve as a new release mechanism, instead.

  • Ion channel biosensors for early diagnosis: Toward the realization of sensory devices, there have been significant efforts on the use of synthetic or biological nanopores in single-molecule sensing platforms. The most attractive features of such systems are the ease of detection as the passage of analytes through the pores generates detectable changes in ionic pore current; no requirement of labeling or surface attachment of the analytes, and least their cost. Among the pores, gated ion channels stand out for their intrinsic high sensitivity. They are natural excitable nanopores with two states: “closed (off)”, and “open (on)”. They are embedded in lipid bilayer membranes. In this project, we engineer new functionalities into an ion channel and incorporate it into hybrid devices with the final goal of obtaining very sensitive and stable biosensors.

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • Dutch Neurofederation

  • Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

  • International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)

  • Biophysical Society

  • The Royal Netherlands Chemical Society (KNCV)

  • The Netherlands Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NVBMB) (Board member)

  • Landelijke Netwerk Vrouwelijke Hoogleraren (National Network of Female Professors)

  • Jurries:

    European Research Council referee in peer review evaluation of proposals submitted to IDEAS Specific Programme

  • NWO/CW Veni Evaluation Committee member, June 2009

  • Ph.D. reading and defense committees, since 2009

Media coverage

Additional qualifications

  • membrane protein engineering (synthetic biology tools)

  • electrophysiology (patch clamp and planar bilayer measurements)

  • fluorescence spectroscopy

  • membrane protein expression in heterologous systems, isolation, and reconstitution into lipids

  • triggered liposomal drug delivery systems

  • ion-channel-based sensors

Soft Skills/Other activities and achievements

Other activities and achievements/family

  • Board member (The Netherlands Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

  • Editorial Role (Frontiers in Oncology, Review Editor for Cancer Imaging and Diagnosis)

  • Family: living together with her partner and a daughter


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