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EMBO Fellowship for IMP postdoc Franziska Lorbeer

16 May 2022

EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships support early-career researchers for up to two years. Franziska Lorbeer, postdoctoral researcher in Alex Stark’s lab at the IMP, was awarded an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship for her research on the regulation of gene transcription.

Franziska Lorbeer aims to understand how the process of transcription – the production of messenger RNA from the gene ‘template’ – is regulated. She started her postdoctoral research in the lab of Alex Stark in 2020 after a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, with Dirk Hockemeyer. She will now continue her work with the support of an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship.

The process of transcription could be compared to a flickering light: the production of messenger RNA ‘flickers’ with a certain frequency – how often is a messenger RNA molecule produced – and a certain brightness or amplitude – how many molecules of the same messenger RNA are produced at once.

Traditionally, scientists have tagged messenger RNA with a fluorescent protein and imaged it through a microscope to measure how frequently and how intensely specific genes are transcribed. This technique has some limitations, however, as only a handful of genes can be considered at once.

Franziska Lorbeer will take a big-picture, systematic approach, measuring the “flickering light” of transcription across the entire genome using high-throughput RNA sequencing methods. She is developing an assay to find out what conditions trigger RNA molecules to be produced at a high frequency, or at a high amplitude.

“The lab of Alex Stark provides the ideal environment for my project, as I get to work with people who have a lot of expertise in bioinformatics and programming, and others with years of laboratory experience in transcription biology,” Lorbeer says. “I am looking forward to the opportunities offered by the EMBO Fellowship to develop my academic career.”

The EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships are awarded for a period of up to two years and support excellent postdoctoral researchers in laboratories throughout Europe and the world. International exchange is a key requirement. EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships also support the career development of the fellows through leadership courses and networking opportunities.

Further reading

Research in the lab of Alex Stark