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Biozentrum Lectures 2014

Molecular chaperones in protein folding and proteostasis control

Franz-Ulrich Hartl, Professor of Biochemistry, Director of the Department Cellular Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried
March 20, 2014, Time: 16:00, Hörsaal 1, Pharmazentrum, Klingelbergstrasse 50-70, Basel

Protein folding is a fundamental process in biology, as it is the final step in the realization of genetic information at the level of functional molecules. The past two decades have witnessed a paradigm shift in our understanding of protein folding in the cell. While the three-dimensional structures of functional proteins are determined by their amino acid sequences, it has become clear that in the crowded cellular environment many proteins depend on molecular chaperones to fold efficiently and at a biologically relevant time scale. 

Assistance in protein folding is provided by different types of chaperones which act to prevent misfolding and aggregation. Errors in folding can result in the accumulation of misfolded and aggregated proteins which cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. The Biozentrum Lecture will focus on the cellular machinery of molecular chaperones and the mechanisms cells use to protect themselves against toxic protein aggregation.

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F. Ulrich Hartl
is Professor of Biochemistry and one of the Directors at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. Prof. Hartl studies the process of protein folding in the cytosol of bacteria and eukaryotic cells. He initiated research that resulted in the demonstration of the basic role of molecular chaperones in protein folding and has received numerous prestigious awards for his groundbreaking discoveries, including the Wiley Prize (2007), the Rosenstiel Award (2008), the Horwitz Prize (2009), the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2010), the Lasker Award (2011) and the Shaw Prize (2012). 

Prof. Hartl studied medicine and received his doctoral degree in Biochemistry from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Following postdoctoral research at the Institute of Physiological Chemistry, University of Munich, and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), he was promoted first to Associate Professor and then Full Professor at Cornell University, New York.  He also became an Associate Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 1997, he returned to Germany to head the Department of Cellular Biochemistry at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. Furthermore, Prof. Hartl was Vice President and President of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and is a member of several scientific societies.