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Christoph Borner Profile Page
Christoph Borner


Lab: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christoph Borner
Department: Institute for Molecular Medicine and Cell Research
Phone: 203 9618
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Lab homepage:
BIOSS Excellence Cluster: Member
PhD positions available: YES
Research Area: Molecular Medicine
Research Interests: -Elucidation of the function of multidomain anti- and pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Mcl-1, Bax and Bak).
-Characterization of components of caspase-independent and RNA-virus (SFV)-induced apoptosis signaling.
-Mathematical modelling of apoptotic and mitogenic FasL signaling pathways in primary hepatocytes.
- Elucidation of the apoptotic and pro-inflammatory signaling pathways of the Aspergillus fumigatus fungal toxin gliotoxin and identification of targets to prevent the human opportunistic disease Aspergillosis.


Education & Training: 1984: Dipl. Biology II, University of Basel, Switzerland
1988: PhD, University of Basel, Switzerland
1998: Habilitation, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Employment & Experience: 1988-1991: Postdoctoral Fellow in Cancer Research, Columbia University,NY,USA
1991-1993: Postdoctoral Fellow in Apoptosis Research, University of Lausanne,CH
1993-2000: Assistant Professor, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
2000-2006: Associate Professor (C3), University of Freiburg, Germany
2006-present: Full Professor (C4/W3) in Medical Cell Research, University of Freiburg
2007- Director of the Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM) of University of Freiburg in the frame of the Excellence Initiative Germany.
2007-2010: Deputy Director of the International Graduate Academy (IGA) of the University of Freiburg in the frame of the Excellence Initiative Germany
2009-2010: Study Dean of Molecular Medicine, University of Freiburg
2008- Scientific Member and Member of the Steering Committee of the Excellence Cluster BIOSS-1 and BIOSS-2 (Centre of Biological Signaling Studies) in the frame of the Excellence Initiative Germany
2013- Professor and Tutor in Biology, Psychology and Environmental Sciences for the Business and Administration study track of the California Miramar University (CMU) in Nairobi, Kenya (50% lectures, 50% online/e-learning tutoring).
2014- Director of the International Master Program in Medical and Biological Sciences (IMBS) between the Universities of Buenos Aires and Freiburg
Scientific Activities: 1986-2010: Member of the "Union Schweizerischer Gesellschaften für Experimentelle Biologie" (USGEB)
1988-2010: Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
1998: Organizer of International Conference "Life and Death of a Cell", Fribourg, Switzerland
1999-present: Election to the Editorial Board of "Cell Death and Differentiation"
1999-present: Member of the Cell Death Society, New York, USA
2000-present: Member of the European Cell Death Society (ECDO)
2001-present Election to the Editorial Board of Biochimica Biophysica Acta (BBA)
2001/03/05/07/09/11/13 Organizer of Conference "Cancer: from birth to death", Sarteano, Tuscany, Italy
2000-present Regular Reviewer for Molecular Cell, Molecular Cell Biology, EMBO Journal, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Cell Death and Differentiation,
2002-present Member of Faculty 1000
2004 Election to the Board of Directors of Cell Death Society New York, USA
2012-present Member of the European Research Institute for Integrated Cellular Pathology (ERI-ICP), Paris


Honors and Awards:

1988: Magna cum laude, University of Basel
1988-2000: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Swiss National Science Foundation
1993-2000: Junior Professor Award: Swiss National Science Foundation
1997-1998: Research Award AETAS (Aging Research), Geneva, Switzerland
2000: Nomination for C4 Full Professorship in Biochemistry, University of Graz, Austria
2004: Nomination for Member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit, Leicester, UK
2005: Nomination for Full Professorship and Chairman of Molecular Medicine, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany
2008: Prize of the Wissenschaftsgesellschaft Freiburg (5000 EURO) for obtaining the funds for the Spemann Graduate School in the frame of the Excellence Initiative
2013: Doctor honoris causa (Dr. h.c.) of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina


Selected Publications:

El Maadidi, S., Faletti, L., Berg, B., Wenzl, C., Wieland, K., Chen, Z. J., Maurer, U. & Borner, C. (2014) A novel mitochondrial MAVS/caspase-8 platform links RNA virus-induced innate antiviral signaling to Bax/Bak-independent apoptosis. J. Immunol. 192, 1171-1183. Abstract

Huai, J., Vögtle, F.-N., Jöckel, L., Li, Y., Kiefer, T. Ricci, J.-E. & Borner, C. (2013) TNFα-induced lysosomal membrane permeability (LMP) is downstream of MOMP and triggered by caspase-mediated p75 cleavage and ROS formation. J. Cell Sci. 126, 4015-4025. Abstract

Geissler, A., Haun, F., Frank, D., Wieland, K., Simon, M., Idzko, M., Davis, R., Maurer, U. & Borner, C. (2013) Apoptosis induced by the fungal pathogen gliotoxin requires a triple phosphorylation of Bim by JNK. Cell Death Differ. 20, 1317-1329. Abstract

Joeckel, L. T., Wallich, R., Froelich, C., Simon, M. M. & Borner C. (2012) Interleukin-1R signaling is essential for induction of proapoptotic CD8 T cells, viral clearance, and pathology during lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection in mice. J. Virol. 86, 8713-8719. Abstract

Sá Ferreira, K., Kreutz, C., MacNelly, S., Neubert, K., Haber, A., Bogyo, M., Timmer, J. & Borner C. (2012) Caspase-3 feeds back on caspase-8, Bid and XIAP in type I Fas signaling in primary mouse hepatocytes. Apoptosis 17, 503-515. Abstract

Vogel, S., Raulf N., Bregenhorn, S., Biniossek, M., Maurer, U., Czabotar, P. & Borner, C. (2012). Cytosolic Bax: does it require binding proteins to keep its pro-apoptotic activity in check? J. Biol. Chem. 287, 9112-9127. Abstract

Charvet C., Wissler, M., Tang Y, Wang, S.-J., Brauns-Schubert, P., Wang, S.-J., Tang, Y., Sigloch, F. C., Mellert, H., Brandenburg, M., Lindner, S., Breit, B., Green, D. R., McMahon, S. B., Borner, C., Gu, W. & Maurer, U. (2011) Phosphorylation of Tip60 by GSK-3 determines the induction of PUMA and apoptosis by p53. Mol Cell 42, 584-596. Abstract

Oberle, C., Huai, J., Reinheckel, T., Tacke, M., Rassner, M., Ekert, P., Buellesbach, J. & Borner C. (2010). Lysosomal membrane permeabilization and cathepsin release is a Bax/Bak-dependent amplifying event in apoptosis. Cell Death Differ. 17, 1167-1178. Abstract

Shen, Z.-J., Esnault, S., Schinzel, A., Borner, C. & Malter, J. S. (2009) Pin1 mediates GM-CSF and IL-5 prosurvival signaling in eosinophils by suppressing Bax activation and mitochondrial targeting. Nat. Immunol. 10, 257-265. Abstract

Jost, P. J., Grabow, S., Gray D., McKenzie, M. D., Nachbur, U., Huang, D. C., Bouillet, P., Thomas, H. E., Borner, C., Silke J., Strasser, A. & Kaufmann T. (2009). XIAP discriminates between type I and type II FAS-induced apoptosis. Nature 460, 1035-1039. Abstract

SGBM PhD students

SGBM PhD students:

María Gabriela Rincón (since March 2018)



Anusha Venkatraman (01/2018 - 11/2022)

Sandra Vogel (06/2005 - 04/2010)

Nina Raulf (09/2007 - 09/2012)

Lars Jöckel (05/2008 - 06/2012)

Andreas Geißler (11/2008 - 06/2012)

Florian Haun (09/2012 - 08/2016)



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