Press Release


Dr. Kurt Schmoller receives HFSP Career Development Award (CDA)

Dr. Kurt Schmoller, junior research group leader at the Institute of Functional Epigenetics (IFE), has received the Career Development Award (CDA) from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP). The grant amount is 300,000 US dollars for three years, and will enable the scientist to use an innovative approach to decode the molecular mechanisms that underlie mitochondrial homeostasis.

Dr. Kurt Schmoller © Helmholtz Zentrum München

Schmoller has been leading the "Cell and Organelle Size Control" group at the Institute of Functional Epigenetics (IFE) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München since August 2017. In the framework of the grant, the biophysicist will now examine how cells balance mitochondrial biogenesis with cell growth. He is attempting to decode how cells ensure that mitochondrial biogenesis and particularly mitochondrial DNA replication are quantitatively coordinated with the cell growth. The cells must ultimately ensure that the quantity of mitochondria and mtDNA also doubles during the population doubling time. Schmoller is combining his knowledge and methods from biophysics with research approaches from cell biology.

"I am very happy to have received the funding from HFSP," Schmoller says. "Until now, my research has primarily focused on decoding the regulation principles that growing cells use to regulate protein production in order to coordinate the concentration of all proteins at all times. The support from HFSP will now allow us to go in a different thematic direction and apply our methodological approaches to the question of how mitochondrial homeostasis can be achieved during the cell cycle."

Defective regulation of the mitochondria in humans causes a number of severe metabolic conditions and neurological disorders. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie the homeostasis of mitochondria is the basis for research into approaches that will make it possible to intervene in this process and develop new treatment possibilities. The Human Frontier Science Program is a funding program of the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) for pioneering research in the biosciences.
 With the Career Development Award (CDA), the HFSPO recognizes fellowship holders who submit an original and innovative research program that promises the development of new research approaches in the biosciences and significantly advances the research field. The grant supports the award winners in setting up their own independent laboratory in their homeland after their stay abroad and in establishing their own research program.

"The HFSP supports explicitly innovative ideas that give research a new thematic direction," Schmoller stresses. "This is unique in the research funding landscape that otherwise usually requires extensive preliminary work."

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