Eugene Kim receives prestigious ERC Starting Grant

The European Research Council (ERC) funds Kim‘s research on the organization of the genetic material in living organisms

November 22, 2022

Eugene Kim, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics and faculty member of the IMPRS on Cellular Biophysics, investigates how the entire genetic material in the form of DNA is stored, packaged and organized in the tiny cell nuclei. The young scientist was selected by the European Research Council from almost 3000 applicants as one of 408 talents to be funded with a highly endowed ERC Starting Grant.

Text: Katharina Käfer

Kim investigates organization of genetic material in cells

The reproduction and evolution of living beings is based on the transfer, conservation and successive modification of genetic information. In the form of DNA, the genetic material is stored in almost every single cell of an organism, more precisely in the cell nuclei. Two meters of threadlike DNA molecules have to be squeezed into the cell nucleus, which is only a few millionths of a millimeter in size. Since the genetic information needs to be continuously read, processed and copied, DNA must undergo dynamic shaping processes at all stages of the cellular life cycle. Anyone who has ever organized a mess of cables might be wondering how the cell is able to manage that. Eugene Kim's team at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics is interested in unraveling this mystery. The scientists study proteins that organize DNA throughout the cell cycle from forming the characteristic textbook X-shaped mitotic chromosomes to arranging DNA during transcription, replication and repair processes. By using dyes for labeling, the researchers can visualize the DNA and the proteins involved using high-resolution microscopes. They observe how the proteins reel DNA-loops to control its packaging into chromosomes without impairing the conservation and transfer of genetic information. Understanding this process could provide new insights into how rare developmental disorders and cancer types may arise and could be treated in the future.

ERC Starting Grants support talented young scientists

With her innovative research idea, Eugene Kim prevailed among almost 3000 applicants and was awarded one of 408 prestigious ERC Starting Grants. The ERC was established in 2007 by the European Union to support cutting-edge research by the best and most creative minds across Europe. The ERC Starting Grants, endowed with an average of €1.5 million, are aimed to help ambitious young scientists pursue their own ideas and build their research groups.

Kim pursues an exemplary academic career

Eugene Kim did her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light in Erlangen and Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg. During her time as a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in Delft in the Netherlands, Kim was awarded a highly renowned Marie Skłodovska-Curie Fellowship and started her research on the structural organization and dynamics of chromosomes in the nucleus using high-resolution single-molecule microscopy. Since 2021, she has successfully been continuing her studies as a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics together with her own research group.

Further information:

Press release of the ERC

Website of the ERC

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