I got my Masters (University of Stuttgart) and PhD (RWTH Aachen University) in biochemical engineering. At some point, I realized that I was not so much interested in making things, but rather in how things work. Therefore, during my postdoc (ETH Zurich) I moved closer and closer to biology and at some point “mutated” into a biologist. Since 2009, I am professor of molecular systems biology (University of Groningen), where I try to contribute to unravel the fascinating biological puzzle – still frequently using the tools of engineers – which often gives us a competitive edge to our research.
About the lab
Our lab at the University of Groningen currently hosts 10 PhD students, 3 postdocs and a technician. Not only do the lab members come from all over the world (Germany, Greece, Spain, Poland, Brazil, The Netherlands, China, …) they also have very different study backgrounds – from control engineering, via biophysics to biotechnology, and molecular biology, which makes the lab very interdisciplinary. We have a very collaborative and collegial atmosphere in the lab; people help each other with their projects and with their specific expertise. Freedom, responsibility, ambition, mentorship are important key words for us.
About the project
Project 8: We have recently proposed that cell can “measure” metabolic flux. In this project, we will investigate flux-sensing in yeast, using a combination of methods from systems biology, i.e. 13C flux analysis, metabolomics, mathematical modeling. Once we understand how the glycolytic flux is sensed in yeast, we will investigate whether a too low glycolytic flux will force cells entering the highly relevant quiescence state (G0). At this point, we will then also use microfluidics combined with time-lapse fluorescence microscopy and the molecular sensors developed in this network to zoom into single cells.
Kochanowski K, Volkmer B, Gerosa L, Haverkorn van Rijsewijk BR, Schmidt A, Heinemann M (2013) Functioning of a metabolic flux sensor in Escherichia coli. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. 110, 1130-1135.
Project 9: We have recently obtained evidence that yeast metabolism oscillates and that the oscillating metabolism could provide dynamic triggers for cell cycle progression. Here, by making use of RNA-based sensors for so-called flux-signaling metabolites, we would like to unravel the mechanistic basis of the connection between metabolism and cell cycle. For this work, we will use a number of different techniques, such as microscopy, microfluidics, 13C flux analysis, metabolomics, molecular biology, genetics, and many more.
Huberts DHEW, Lee SS, Gonzalez J, Janssens GE, Avalos Vizcarra I, Heinemann M (2013) Construction and use of a microfluidic dissection platform for long-term imaging of cellular processes in budding yeast. Nature Protocols. 8, 1019–1027.
Lee SS, Avalos Vizcarra I, Huberts DHEW, Lee LP, Heinemann M (2012) Whole lifespan microscopic observation of budding yeast aging through a microfluidic dissection platform. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, 109: 4916–4920.