Proteins are one of the key building blocks of all life: they are crucial components of cells and tissue, and the immune system’s hormones and antibodies are also composed of these proteins. Precisely predicting protein structure is, however, still a challenge to science. The standard procedures, such as X-ray structure analysis and spectroscopic methods, are time- and cost-intensive – which is why the search is on for computer-aided techniques. Bioinformatics researcher Jens Meiler has a global reputation as a leader in this field at the intersection of biology, physics, chemistry and computer science. He has, for example, contributed significantly to the development of the Rosetta Programme that is now being found in laboratories around the world. Rosetta is used to develop and test algorithms for quickly and reliably predicting protein structure from an amino acid sequence. This could help to discover new therapies for diseases like AIDS, cancer, malaria, Alzheimer’s and viral illnesses.
In his role as a Humboldt Professor at the University of Leipzig, Jens Meiler is set to reinforce the life sciences with its focus on elucidating the communication paths in and between cells. An “Institute for Innovation in Rational Drug Design” is planned. In addition, Meiler is scheduled to establish a “European Center for ROSETTA Therapeutic Design” in Leipzig.
Jens Meiler has been selected for the Humboldt Professorship and will now embark on appointment negotiations with the German university that nominated her. If the negotiations succeed, the award will be conferred in May 2019.
Nominating University: Leipzig University
Prof. Dr. Jens Meiler
was born in Germany. Since 2005, he has been conducting research at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, USA, initially as an assistant professor, then an associate professor and since 2016, as a Full Professor of Chemistry, Pharmacology and Biomedical Informatics. Meiler studied at the University of Leipzig before taking his doctorate at Frankfurt. In 2001, he started working in the United States with a four-year stint as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle. He was granted the Humboldt Foundation’s Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award in 2015 and was elected to the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2017.