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CSSB Research Hotel has a new Member

| Press Release

Freigeist fellowship awarded for research at the Universität Hamburg

Dr. Rainer Kaufmann is one of thirteen scientists to receive a Freigeist-Fellowship from the Volkswagen Foundation and will conduct his research at the Universität Hamburg. With this grant, Kaufmann seeks further our understanding of complex cellular processes by embarking upon a new path in the field of microscopy. For his project, he will receive more than one million Euros over a period of five years. In 2017, Dr. Kaufmann will move from his current position at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford to the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences and will work at the Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB).

Dr. Kaufmanns research focuses on the development of new microscopy techniques that provide accurate images of the smallest biological structures in the nanometer range. The current methods used to study these structures, such as super-resolution light microscopy, creating “sharper” images by introducing fluorescent molecules into cells and using lasers to switch them on and off. These methods are however too slow to capture clear images of the dynamic environment within living cells. Currently, for high resolution imaging most cells are chemically fixed which can lead to structural changes. Consequently, the resulting images taken with these super-microscopes do not always reflect the actual living cell and can lead to ambiguous conclusions.

Kaufmann would like to develop a new field of microscopy –super-resolution fluorescence cryo-microscopy. This method would use cryo immobilization, a process which freezes samples so quickly that their biological structures are preserved in a native state. This technique provides scientist with longer data acquisition periods and an ideal resolution for imaging a structurally unchanged cell. Kaufman plans to develop a new microscope which will enable more precise investigations of specific biological problems like the communication in synapses and the structural composition of complex viruses.

Dr. Kaufmann will conduct his research in the CSSB Research Hotel. He will use a laboratory in the new CSSB building that has been specifically reserved for junior principle investigators. CSSB is an interdisciplinary research centre studying the pathogens responsible for infectious disease and the Universität Hamburg is one of its ten partner institutions.

According to the Volkswagen Foundation the Freigeist Fellowship is awarded to support young researchers who “open up new horizons” and “move between established research fields.” Any scientist who has received a doctoral degree less than five years ago can apply for the fellowship. More than ten million Euros has been awarded to the thirteen projects that received the fellowship this year.