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Prof. Dr. Hendrik Dietz

Biochemistry/Biophysics, Technical University of Munich

Prof. Dr. Hendrik Dietz

Prof. Dr. Hendrik Dietz

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

Hendrik Dietz ranks among the world's leading researchers in DNA nanotechnology, at present one of the most dynamic fields of biomolecular basic research. He is particularly interested in DNA origami, which is used in the sequence-programmed synthesis of highly complex functional two-dimensional and three-dimensional nanocomponents. Although this technique was invented by other researchers, it was Dietz' work that transformed it into a widely applicable tool that is now used all over the world to develop nanoscale instruments and tools and to test biological and biophysical hypotheses. In addition to his fundamental work in this field, Dietz has pioneered its application, for example by constructing moving grippers and sliders from DNA. His work in the production of synthetic nanopores in lipid membranes is of great practical importance. Another of his key research interests is the development of DNA-based tools for the mechanical and spatial orientation of proteins and their analysis using single-molecule spectroscopic methods. Finally, by using an entirely new fabrication method Dietz was able to make the synthesis of complex DNA structures much faster and more efficient, paving the way for the industrial application of synthetic DNA objects.

At 36 years old, Hendrik Dietz is the youngest recipient of the 2015 Leibniz Prize. Born in Dresden, he trained as a physicist but has been interested in chemistry for many years. He studied in Paderborn, Saragossa (Spain) and at LMU Munich. He received his doctorate from the Technical University of Munich in 2007 before becoming a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School. Two years after obtaining his doctorate, Dietz returned to the Technical University of Munich to take up a post as assistant professor. Since 2014 he has held a W3 professorship in experimental biophysics. Dietz is involved in the Nanosystems Initiative Munich, a cluster of excellence funded through the Excellence Initiative. In 2010 he received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) and his work has been recognised with numerous awards and fellowships.

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