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Nikolaus Pfanner Profile Page
Nikolaus Pfanner


Lab: Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner
Department: Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Phone: 203 5223/5224
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: Protein Structure and Function
Research Interests: Targeting, translocation and folding of mitochondrial proteins


Education & Training: 1978-1984: Study of Medicine, University of Munich, Germany
1985: Dr. med., University of Munich, Germany
1990: Habilitation, University of Munich, Germany
Employment & Experience: 1985-1986: Postdoctoral Fellow in Physiological Chemistry, University of Munich
1987-88 & 89-92: Junior Group Leader, University of Munich
1988-1989: Research Fellow in Molecular Biology, Princeton University, USA
1992-present: Full Professor and Chair of Biochemistry, University of Freiburg
Scientific Activities: 1995-2006 Coordinator of Collaborative Research Centre on “Cellular Functions of Dynamic Protein Interactions” Freiburg (SFB 388)
1996-2004 Elected DFG reviewer for Biochemistry
1996-2000 Chairman of DFG Study Section of Biological Chemistry & Biophysics
1999-2011 Member Advisory Board, Max Planck Research Unit in Halle
2001-2006 Member of DFG Senate Commission on Genetic Research
2002-2008 Chairman of Research Board of Medical Faculty Freiburg
2005-present Member Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research Heidelberg
2007-2009 Vice President of German Society for Biochemistry & Molec. Biology
2008-present Member of the Council of the University of Freiburg
2009-present Member Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute for Biophysics Frankfurt
2009-2011 President of German Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Editorial Board Current Biology (1998-present), Journal of Biological Chemistry (1999-
2001), EMBO Journal (1999-present), EMBO Reports (2000-2010)


Honors and Awards:

1985: Summa cum laude, University of Munich
1991: Research Award (Habilitationspreis) of University of Munich
1994-present: Member of European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO)
1999-present: Best Lecturer (three times), teaching evaluation of the Medical Faculty Freiburg (Preclinical Lecturers & Study Course Molecular Medicine)
2000-present: Member of German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2002: Max Planck Research Award for International Cooperation
2004: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize
2004-present: Member of Academy of Sciences Heidelberg
2005-present: Member of Academia Europaea
2007: Research Award of German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2008: Research Award of the State of Baden-Württemberg
2011: Hector Research Award
2014: Stein and Moore Award, Protein Society (USA)
2014: Wilhelm Feldberg Prize, U.K.
2015: Otto Warburg Medal


Selected Publications:

Shiota, T., Imai, K., Qiu, J., Hewitt, V.L., Tan, K., Shen, H.H., Sakiyama, N., Fukasawa, Y., Hayat, S., Kamiya, M., Elofsson, A., Tomii, K., Horton, P., Wiedemann, N., Pfanner, N., Lithgow, T., and Endo, T. (2015). Molecular architecture of the active mitochondrial protein gate. Science 349, 1544-1548. Abstract

Harbauer, A.B., Opalinska, M., Gerbeth, C., Herman, J.S., Rao, S., Schönfisch, B., Guiard, B., Schmidt, O., Pfanner, N.*, and Meisinger, C.* (2014). Cell cycle-dependent regulation of mitochondrial preprotein translocase. Science 346, 1109-1113. Abstract

Qiu, J., Wenz, L.S., Zerbes, R.M., Oeljeklaus, S., Bohnert, M., Stroud, D.A., Wirth, C., Ellenrieder, L., Thornton, N., Kutik, S., Wiese, S., Schulze-Specking, A., Zufall, N., Chacinska, A., Guiard, B., Hunte, C., Warscheid, B., van der Laan, M., Pfanner, N.*, Wiedemann, N.*, and Becker, T. (2013). Coupling of mitochondrial import and export translocases by receptor-mediated supercomplex formation. Cell 154, 596-608. Abstract
(*corresponding authors)

Schmidt, O., Harbauer, A.B., Rao, S., Eyrich, B., Zahedi, R.P., Stojanovski, D., Schönfisch, B., Guiard, B., Sickmann, A., Pfanner, N.*, and Meisinger, C.* (2011). Regulation of mitochondrial protein import by cytosolic kinases. Cell 144, 227-239. Abstract

Chacinska, A., Koehler, C.M., Milenkovic, D., Lithgow, T., and Pfanner, N.* (2009). Importing mitochondrial proteins: machineries and mechanisms. Cell 138, 628-644. Abstract

Vögtle, F.-N., Wortelkamp, S., Zahedi, R.P., Becker, D., Leidhold, C., Gevaert, K., Kellermann, J., Voos, W., Sickmann, A.*, Pfanner, N.*, Meisinger, C. (2009). Global analysis of the mitochondrial N-proteome identifies a processing peptidase critical for protein stability. Cell 139, 428-439. Abstract

Kutik, S., Stojanovski, D., Becker, L., Becker, T., Meinecke, M., Krüger, V., Prinz, C., Meisinger, C., Guiard, B., Wagner, R., Pfanner, N.*, Wiedemann, N. (2008) Dissecting membrane insertion of mitochondrial beta-barrel proteins. Cell 132, 1011-1024.  Abstract

Meinecke, M., Wagner, R.*, Kovermann, P., Guiard, B., Mick, D.U., Hutu, D.P., Voos, W., Truscott, K.N., Chacinska, A., Pfanner, N.*, Rehling, P. (2006) Tim50 maintains the permeability barrier of the mitochondrial inner membrane. Science 312, 1523-1526. Abstract

Chacinska, A., Lind, M., Frazier, A.E., Dudek, J., Meisinger, C., Geissler, A., Sickmann, A., Meyer, H.E., Truscott, K.N., Guiard, B., Pfanner, N.*, Rehling, P.* (2005) Mitochondrial presequence translocase: switching between TOM tethering and motor recruitment involves Tim21 and Tim17. Cell 120, 817-829.  Abstract

Rehling, P., Model, K., Brandner, K., Kovermann, P., Sickmann, A., Meyer, H., Kühlbrandt, W., Wagner, R., Truscott, K.N., Pfanner, N.* (2003) Protein insertion into the mitochondrial inner membrane by a twin-pore translocase. Science 299, 1747-1751. Abstract

SGBM PhD students

SGBM PhD students:


Track 1:
Uma Gune (01/2013 - 06/2016)
Sanjana Rao (08/2007 - 02/2012)
Jian Qiu (10/2008 - 07/2013)

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