PhD student at the LMU
in the group of Dr. Kay E. Gottschalk (now: E.-M.-A. Universität Greifswald)
Research on terahertz dynamics of bio-polymers in solution at the UCSB in the group of Prof. S. James Allen, USA
2002 - 2007
Diploma in physics at the University of Augsburg
Scholarship of the IDK-NBT (Elitenetwork of Bavaria)
Living cells communicate with each other by expression of cell signaling molecules (e.g. chemokines), which specifically bind to cell-surface receptors. Integrins constitute one of the most abundant classes of these receptors and are in the focus of my thesis. Besides cell signaling they also play a role in cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction. As a consequence, they are involved in many fundamental cellular processes like adhesion, migration, proliferation, and apoptosis. Furthermore, integrins are overexpressed in certain cancer cells, rendering them attractive cancer drug targets. Their activity is influenced in a complex manner both by mechanical forces and cell signaling molecules.
The goal of my thesis is to resolve the spatial and temporal demands of the underlying processes. To this end, a combination of an atomic force microscope (AFM) and a total internal reflection fluorescence microscope (TIRF) is deployed. This allows simultanious observation of single integrin molecules and quantification of their activity.
Since integrins are of crucial importance in several patho-physiological activities like tumorgenesis and immune response, a fundamental understanding of integrin signaling will be essential to develop effective therapies against cancer and so far uncurable autoimmune diseases.