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F.-Ulrich Hartl to give Max Birnstiel Lecture

03 May 2022

The biochemist and cell biologist F.-Ulrich Hartl, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried (Germany), will give a Birnstiel Lecture on 11 May 2022. The Birnstiel Lectures are the IMP’s flagship lecture series and brings highly distinguished scientists to the Vienna BioCenter.

The IMP is looking forward to welcoming biochemist and cell biologist F.-Ulrich Hartl, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried (Germany). F.-Ulrich Hartl has pioneered the study of protein-mediated protein folding. The groundbreaking nature of his work has been recognized by an exceptional number of scientific honours (see below).

F.-Ulrich Hartl will give his talk “Molecular Chaperones in Protein Folding and Proteostasis” at the IMP Lecture Hall at 11 am on 11 May 2022. The lecture will be recorded and will become publicly available at a later date.

F.-Ulrich Hartl studies the components and mechanisms of protein folding in the cell, and more specifically, how the machinery of molecular chaperones assists in co- and post-translational protein folding. Understanding how amino acid chains fold into three-dimensional proteins, and how these avoid becoming unfolded again is a fundamental question in biochemistry. Up to the 1990s, it was thought that proteins acquired their shape through a process of self-assembly. Hartl showed that in many proteins in the cytosol, chaperonins - a class of molecular chaperones -, facilitate folding by transiently enclosing unfolded polypeptides in a cage, which prevents inter-molecular protein aggregation. These insights revolutionised our understanding of the principles of protein biogenesis and Hartl’s work remains at the forefront of studying protein formation.

F.-Ulrich Hartl was born in Essen, Germany, in 1957. He studied medicine at Heidelberg University, graduating summa cum laude in 1985 and remaining there for a dissertation on the role of hormones in the rat liver. In 1989, Hartl started postdoctoral research at the University of California (UCLA). In 1991, he established his own group at Cornell University. From 1994 to 1997, he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute associate investigator. Hartl returned to Europe in 1997, when he was appointed director at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany.

In recognition of his research achievements, F.-Ulrich Hartl has been presented with a range of scientific merits, including the Lipmann Award (1997), the Gairdner Foundation International Award (2004), the Ernst Jung Prize (2005), the Körber European Science Award (2006), the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Science (2007), the Rosenstiel Award (2008), the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (2008), the Otto Warburg Medal (2009), the Heineken Prize (2010), the Albert Lasker Award (2011), the Show Prize (2912), and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2020). Hartl is also member of scientific societies, including the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Japanese Biochemical Society, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and many others.

F.-Ulrich Hartl will be hosted by IMP senior scientist Tim Clausen.

About the Birnstiel Lectures

The Birnstiel Lectures are the IMP’s prime seminar series, named after the late founding director of the institute. Five to six scientists - all distinguished leaders in their fields - are invited every year to deliver one of these outstanding lectures that are open to the public and invariably draw a large audience to the IMP.