EMBO Young Investigator Brian Luke joins Institute of Molecular Biology in Mainz to study telomere biology

New group leader will focus on understanding the biology of telomeres


The Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz welcomes Dr. Brian Luke as a new group leader. His work will focus on understanding the biology of telomeres, which play a critical role in cellular senescence and the prevention of tumorigenesis. Telomeres are found at the ends of linear chromosomes. Free DNA ends are normally recognized by the cell as being broken and trigger a DNA damage response, which stops the cell from dividing and propagating the damage to other cells. At the ends of chromosomes, however, telomeres act as a cap to protect the DNA from this response. Problems with telomere function can result in tissue loss due to increased rates of cellular senescence as well as chromosomal abnormalities associated with ageing. Dr. Brian Luke's research at IMB will focus on understanding multiple aspects of the structure and function of telomeres. As part of this, his group plans to explore the role of a newly discovered non-coding telomere repeat containing RNA, TERRA, which is transcribed from telomeres and is important for telomere function. He will also investigate telomere looping, which is understood to play a role in protecting chromosome ends from degradation. This research will provide valuable insights into how the structure of telomeres is linked to their function both during senescence and in cancer cells where telomere maintenance is required for continued tumor growth.

In 2013, Dr. Brian Luke was elected as an EMBO Young Investigator, the only scientist working in Germany to receive this honor in that year. He joins IMB from his position as a group leader at the Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) at the University of Heidelberg.

About the Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH

The Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB) is a center of excellence in the life sciences that was established in 2011 on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Research at IMB concentrates on three cutting-edge areas: epigenetics, developmental biology, and genome stability. The institute is a prime example of a successful collaboration between public authorities and a private foundation. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has dedicated EUR 100 million for a period of ten years to cover the operating costs for research at IMB, while the state of Rhineland-Palatinate provided approximately EUR 50 million for the construction of a state-of-the-art building.

About the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization committed to the promotion of the medical, biological, chemical, and pharmaceutical sciences. It was established in 1977 by Hubertus Liebrecht (1931-1991), a member of the shareholder family of the company Boehringer Ingelheim. With the PLUS 3 Perspectives Program and the Exploration Grants, the foundation supports independent group leaders. It also endows the internationally renowned Heinrich Wieland Prize as well as awards for up-and-coming scientists. In addition, the foundation pledged to donate EUR 100 million to finance the scientific running of the IMB at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz for ten years. In 2013, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation donated a further EUR 50 million to Mainz University.