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The research group of Professor Christian Eckmann is studying the molecular basis of germ cell development. From undifferentiated, dividing stem cells and depending on gender, germ cells develop into differentiated end products: the female egg and male sperm. Most stages of germ cell development are primarily controlled by post-transcriptional gene expression regulation. The aim of Christian Eckmann’s laboratory is to reveal the molecular functions of RNA-binding and RNA-modifying proteins involved in this type of gene expression regulation, and to decode the matching mRNA code. The object under investigation is the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, an established genetic animal model.
Christian Eckmann’s research focus marks a new general direction of genetic research at MLU. "The Heisenberg Professorship honours the excellent scientific achievements of Christian Eckmann and DFG funding means that the university is able to offer him long-term perspectives as a professor. At the same time, we can continue to strengthen our very successful biosciences programme," says Rector Professor Udo Sträter. In the Faculty of Natural Sciences I - Biosciences, to which Eckmann’s research group belongs, his work strengthens protein research and RNA biology. There are also links to other Faculties of Natural Sciences at MLU and the Faculty of Medicine through common research goals.
Born in Austria in 1972, Christian Eckmann studied molecular genetics at the University of Vienna, ultimately receiving his PhD from there. As a post-doc in the USA, he familiarized himself with the genetic system of C. elegans and his work on this subject is one-of-a-kind today in Europe. In Dresden, he established an independent research group at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics to answer several open questions in the field of germline development. Supported by the Heisenberg fellowship from the DFG and by priority funding from the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Eckmann’s research group completed their successive transfer to MLU in 2015, moving into offices and laboratories at the Biocenter on MLU’s Weinberg Campus.
Since 2006 the DFG’s Heisenberg Professorship programme provides excellent scientists, who are eligible for appointment, with a DFG-funded position for a maximum of five years and, as part of a tenure track, with subsequent unlimited-term employment at the respective university. The DFG approves around 20 of these professorships every year.