Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Press release: Mechanical properties of protein filaments in biological cells

Nr. 72/2017 - 21.04.2017

Consolidator Grant: ERC funds project by physicist Professor Sarah Köster with € 2.4 million

(pug) The research of Professor Sarah Köster at Göttingen University's Institute for X-Ray Physics deals with the physics of biological cells and cellular components. For this, the European Research Council (ERC) has awarded her a Consolidator Grant for over € 2.4 million to fund her project titled “MECHANICS—Mechanics of cells: the role of intermediate filaments” for a period of five years. The research project starts in May 2017.

The different mechanical requirements on the cells of our body are primarily governed by the cytoskeleton—a complex network of cellular filaments. One particular component of this composite material from the family of intermediate filament proteins possesses astonishing physical properties like extreme extensibility and high flexibility. These are the properties Köster aims to investigate in her new project. She, with her team of doctoral candidates, will combine different innovative methods to measure molecular interactions in the proteins, mechanically characterise the filaments and conclude by transferring the results to the cellular level. “We expect to gain new insights into the basic physics of biological soft matter as well as areas of application in medicine and the material sciences,” says Köster.

Sarah Köster, born in 1979, studied physics at the University of Ulm, Germany and she received her PhD from Göttingen University in 2006. After two years at Harvard University, Göttingen University awarded her a Junior Professorship at the Courant Research Centre “Nano-Spectroscopy and X-Ray Imaging”. In 2011, she was appointed professor at the Institute for X-Ray Physics. Köster is involved with the Collaborative Research Centres “Nanoscale Photonic Imaging“ and “Collective behavior of soft and biological matter”, whilst also collaborating with the Cluster of Excellence titled “Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CNMPB)”.

Professor Sarah Köster
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Faculty of Physics – Institute for X-Ray Physics
Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Phone +49 (0)551 39-9429