LMU research project awarded ERC Grant

14 Feb 2023

The European Research Council has awarded a Proof of Concept Grant to biophysicist Thorben Cordes.

Thorben Cordes, Professor of Physical and Synthetic Biology at the Faculty of Biology, has been funded by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) between 2014 and 2021. Now the biophysicist has been awarded an ERC Proof of Concept Grant (PoC) to build on results from on this work. With the PoC program, the ERC helps researchers translate their results into practice.

The Cordes lab specializes in the development and application of novel fluorescence spectroscopy and imaging techniques that allow to map structure and function of biomolecules and biochemical processes in space and time. The current research focus is on molecular mechanisms of membrane transporters, the development of fluorescent probes as well as biophysical assays and instrumentation.

In the ERC project Cordes studied mechanistic aspects of membrane transport processes. Membrane transport proteins play crucial roles for many cellular processes and represent important drug targets. The Cordes group introduced novel single-molecule tools to decipher the molecular mechanisms of transport directly. This novel biophysical research area will support the development of new strategies against pathogenic bacteria or multi-drug resistant cancer cells.

In the newly funded PoC project “Bio-Linker,” Cordes wants to advance fluorescent dye molecules that are used in many life-science applications including basic research, medical diagnostics, cancer research, personalized medicine and drug screening. All commercially available fluorophores suffer from fundamental problems that can cause loss of information in biomedical assays, reduced sensitivity of diagnostic tests or reduce the performance of stains/dyes in imaging. The lab established a versatile class of ‘linker’ compounds that allow selective labelling of biological targets in vitro and in vivo with a (commercial) fluorophore, which becomes tuneable in all of its properties via the linker. In the PoC grant, Cordes wants to explore the potential of the approach for commercial use in biomedicine, industry and academic research.

Thorben Cordes studied chemistry at TU Braunschweig and completed his doctorate in physics at LMU Munich. From 2008 to 2011, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Munich and Oxford, before accepting a tenure track professor position the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Since 2017, he has been a professor at the LMU Biocenter.

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