Meldungen aus der UDE


1.65 million euro go to biochemist

Cells under stress

  • von Dr. Alexandra Nießen
  • 16.08.2019

Polluted air, work under pressure, exposure to infectious disease: Everyday life puts many people under stress, which can be physically exhausting. Dr. Doris Hellerschmied examines how cells react to molecular forms of stress. She is one of six winners of the Sofja Kovalevskaja-Award of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung. She has received 1.65 million euros to establish an independent research group at the UDE.

Hellerschmied (33) is a biochemist and was hired from the prestigious Yale University in New Haven (USA) to carry out her important research at the Center of Medical Biotechnology (ZMB) at the UDE. She studies how the so-called Golgi apparatus of cells reacts to stress. Under normal conditions, the Golgi apparatus is implicated in protein secretion.

Under conditions of protein folding stress, neurodegenerative diseases involving slowly dying neurons may develop. By unraveling the stress-response of the cells, Hellerschmied aims at improving the molecular understanding of such diseases.

The native Austrian is going to perform multidisciplinary experiments at the ZMB lead by Prof. Michael Ehrmann. „Our previous work has shown that unfolding of proteins induces stress in the Golgi and that the unfolded proteins are removed from this part of the cell.“, says Hellerschmied. While wrongly assembled proteins are degraded, others associate with so-called chaperones that support protein refolding.

The Sofja Kovalevskaja-Preis is one of the most highly-endowed German prizes for scientists; it is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research. The prize allows the awardees to pursue independent research for five years at an institute of their choice in Germany and establish a research group.


Further information
Center of Medical Biotechnology, Microbiology:
Dr. Doris Hellerschmied, +49 201/18-33120,
Prof. Dr. Michael Ehrmann, +49 201/18-32949,

Editor: Alexandra Nießen, +49 203/37-91487,