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Prof. Dr. Irmgard Sinning

Structural Biology, University of Heidelberg

Prof. Dr. Irmgard Sinning

Prof. Dr. Irmgard Sinning

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

Combining biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology, Irmgard Sinning works at the forefront of research. She is primarily concerned with protein complexes, which transport different membrane proteins to the correct cellular compartments in the appropriate target membranes. The crucial question is how the proteins are transported by the biological membranes. Sinning has published extensively in this area, seeking to explain one of the most important transport mechanisms: transport mediated by the signal recognition particle (SRP). This particle, a complex consisting of protein and ribonucleic acids, first recognises the proteins and binds them to the ribosomes while they are still being formed. The target protein is then transported to a receptor in which a pore opens to allow the protein to be threaded through and “translocated” from one compartment to the next. It is extremely important to understand this process because a membrane protein can only perform its biological function if in the right place and at the right time.

After studying food chemistry at the University of Munich (LMU), Irmgard Sinning worked on her dissertation at the Max Planck Institutes for Biochemistry and Biophysics in a group led by Leibniz Prize winner and future Nobel Prize winner Hartmut Michel. She completed her dissertation in 1989 at LMU. She then did postdoctoral research in Frankfurt and Uppsala and spent a number of years as the leader of an independent junior research group at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. In 2000 she was appointed professor of biochemistry at Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center, where she continues to work today.

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