(Vienna, 29-11-2017) Alwin Köhler, group leader at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL), a joint venture established between the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, is awarded a prestigious 'ERC Consolidator Grant' from the European Research Council. This is his second ERC grant after receiving an ERC Starting Grant in 2011 and will provide long-term funding for his mechanistic studies on the nuclear pore complex.
An MFPL group leader since 2010, Alwin Köhler’s main research interest lies in exploring nuclear pore complexes (NPCs), the molecular gates that control all traffic in and out of the nucleus. Beyond transporting cargo, NPCs have fascinating additional roles such as the regulation of gene expression and the shaping of the nuclear membrane, which protects the genome. As a result of these essential functions, NPCs are implicated in a vast number of human diseases and under intense investigation in basic and applied research.
The ERC Consolidator Grant (2 million euro dotation) will allow his group to undertake a challenging new research project on the nuclear pore “basket”, a large structure that is appended to the NPC core. The basket has been implicated in the regulation of molecular transport, decoding of DNA and DNA repair, membrane remodelling and other vital processes, however, it is still very poorly understood compared to the rest of the NPC.
"Our goal is to biochemically reconstruct the NPC basket from its individual components. This engineering approach can be described as: scientific learning through building. We expect to discover the fundamental design principles of the NPC and how its structure is linked to normal function and disease,” says Alwin Köhler.
The ERC Consolidator Grant for Alwin Köhler is the ninth ERC grant at the MFPL, and once again shows the high quality of research carried out at the institute.
“This is a very interdisciplinary research project and it fits perfectly into the Joint-venture concept of our two universities and the stimulating research environment of the Vienna BioCenter”
In the 2017 Consolidator grant call, only 13% of applications were successful.
Alwin Köhler was born in Kronstadt, Romania. He studied Medicine at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and carried out his doctoral thesis at the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. After a Postdoc at the Biochemistry Center Heidelberg, he moved to Vienna for his group leader position at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories in 2010. Among other prizes and awards, he has received a START grant from the FWF, an ERC Starting Grant and a NOMIS Pioneering Research Grant.
The Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL)
The Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) are a center established by the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna to provide an environment for excellent, internationally recognized research and education in the field of Molecular Biology. On average, the MFPL host 60 independent research groups, involving more than 500 people from 40 nations. Info: www.mfpl.ac.at