Focus on the extracellular matrix

Max Planck postdoc Julian Nüchel becomes Junior Group Leader at the Center for Biochemistry at the University of Cologne

Julian Nüchel, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing, will become a junior group leader at the Centre for Biochemistry at the Medical Faculty of the University of Cologne in January. His group studies the extracellular matrix, the part of our tissues that surrounds and stabilises cells. Nüchel is particularly interested in how cells control the secretion and homeostasis of the extracellular matrix through post-translational protein modifications.

The extracellular matrix is like the "glue" of our body. It surrounds cells and gives tissues structure, strength and shape. It is made up of different proteins and other molecules that are linked together like a network, forming a kind of scaffolding that supports cells while allowing them to communicate with each other. During the ageing process, dysregulation of the extracellular matrix can lead to diseases of the musculoskeletal system, resulting in chronic pain, loss of mobility and reduced quality of life. Nüchel aims to understand the regulatory mechanisms of the extracellular matrix with the long-term perspective of being able to intervene therapeutically.

Nüchel has consistently pursued his goal of leading his own research group. After joining Demetriades' group as a postdoc with his own project, he initiated DFG-funded projects such as FOR2722, which investigates the importance of the extracellular matrix for the musculoskeletal system, and collaborated on another project with Marius Lemberg, director of the Center for Biochemistry. He is now starting his new group with two PhD students and can continue to pursue his research interests.

"I am very grateful to Constantinos Demetriades for his support and encouragement on the way to my own research group. During my time as a postdoc, I was already able to do a lot of teaching at the university and also focus on research proposals, which will now allow me to start my own group," says Nüchel.

"I am thrilled for Julian as he embarks on his new journey leading his own research group – his dedication and potential are truly impressive, and I'm very proud to see him take this significant step in his career”, says Demetriades.

About Julian Nüchel

Nüchel studied biology at the University of Cologne and completed his PhD at the Institute of Biochemistry. After moving to the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing as a postdoc in 2021, he will return to the Institute of Biochemistry as a junior group leader from January 2024.

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