30 March 2020

Internationally renowned researcher to establish program at CPR

This March, Professor Anja Groth will establish a new research program at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research dedicated to protein memory. The program will build on Anja Groth’s successful results within epigenetics and cellular memory.

Although proteins are not living, thinking entities, they can carry information between generations of cells and generate cellular memory. This aspect of proteins are exactly what a newly established research program at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (CPR) will investigate.

The program entitled “Protein Memory” will be led by Professor Anja Groth who is joining the center from the Biotech Research and Innovation Center (BRIC). Here, she has established herself as an internationally renowned researcher. Among other honors she is elected member of EMBO and she was awarded the Elite Research Prize from the Ministry for Higher Education and Science in 2018.

 “I have been incredibly happy to be at BRIC where I had the opportunity to build and develop my group. But renewal creates new thinking, and now is a good time to move to CPR to further develop my research area. We will be able to expand the program by recruiting younger groups within complementary research areas in order to fully understand how cellular memory works,” says Anja Groth.

Maintenance of cellular identity

Cells divide all the time and researchers within the field of epigenetics try to understand how genetic information along with its function and organization into chromatin passes from one cell to two daughter cells. The new program at CPR will specifically investigate how information in proteins and their modifications contributes to maintenance of cellular identity and epigenetic memory. This is a field in rapid development, as discussed in an overview article from the Groth group published this week in Nature Cell Biology.

Anja Groth and her research team moved their entire lab into the buildings of CPR this month.

 “It is interesting for me to become a program leader with opportunity to mentor junior group leaders in developing their skills while still maintaining close contact to our own research. In my group we work across disciplines, which is the core of CPR, so we look forward to reaping the synergy effects that CPR’s different technologies make possible, while we also contribute to develop the genomics platform at the center.”

Major achievement of CPR

At CPR, management have been looking forward to the expansion and the new research possibilities that will arise from it.

“I am really proud about Anja’s decision to continue her research at CPR. This is a major achievement in light of the fact that Anja is constantly receiving offers from top institutions in the US and Europe. Besides the excellent scientific reputation of our center, the reason for our success was that CPR could offer an opportunity to grow as a leader at a scale no competing institution was able to match,” says CPR executive director Jiri Lukas and continues:

“Anja has just become Research Director of the new Protein Memory Program. I could not imagine a more relevant and timely expansion of the current CPR scientific scope – both at the level of basic protein research and its translation to unforeseen opportunities for drug discovery of diseases such as cancer, premature aging or developmental disorders.”

Read more about Anja Groth’s research