Prof. Matthias Heinemann

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.

More information about our lab

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.

Kotte O, Zaugg JB, Heinemann M (2010) Bacterial adaptation through distributed sensing of metabolic fluxes. Molecular Systems Biology, 6: 355.

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.