UA Ruhr News Center

13. 06. 2024

Dana Branzei selected for Humboldt Professorship 2025 at the UDE

Top researcher Dana Branzei has been selected by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for the Humboldt Professorship 2025. She is to be appointed to the Research Center One Health Ruhr of the UA Ruhr at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation announced today that molecular biologist Dr. Dana Branzei has been selected for the Humboldt Professorship 2025. The internationally renowned expert in molecular biology is currently researching the mechanisms of DNA repair at the Research Institute of Molecular Oncology in Milan, thereby contributing to the fundamental understanding of cancer development and therapy. The top researcher has already received numerous awards, including two prestigious prizes from the European Research Council. At five million euros, the Humboldt Professorship is the most highly endowed research award in Germany and attracts international scientists to German universities.

It is planned to appoint the Humboldt Professor to the Research Center One Health Ruhr in the University Alliance Ruhr. One Health Ruhr will develop into an international hub for mechanistic disease research, particularly in relation to disorders of cell division mechanisms. At the University of Duisburg-Essen, the interdisciplinary scientific center for medical biotechnology combines research in the natural sciences with research in university medicine. In this strong, complementary set-up, biomedical research at the Essen location is extraordinarily strong scientifically, trend-setting and socially relevant.

Science Minister Ina Brandes: "I am delighted about this award in three ways: For Dana Branzei, it is well-deserved confirmation of her research work at a top international level. For the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Humboldt Professorship means a further boost in the fight against the widespread disease of cancer. And for the research state of North Rhine-Westphalia, it is proof of its strong attraction for scientists of worldwide renown. Here they find the conditions they need for successful research. No other state has awarded as many Humboldt Professorships as North Rhine-Westphalia."

The Rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Prof. Dr. Barbara Albert, is delighted that the University of Duisburg-Essen has been able to interest Dana Branzei in the Ruhr region as a research location: "In the University Alliance Ruhr, we offer great scientists a highly attractive research environment with our joint research centers. With Dana Branzei, we are very happy to have attracted a researcher to our university who can play a significant role in One Health Ruhr as well as at our Faculty of Biology and the Center for Medical Biotechnology and have a great impact. The successful application for a Humboldt Professorship is a great success for cutting-edge molecular biology research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Ms. Branzei is an outstanding scientist and will enrich our internationally outstanding cancer research with her expertise."

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Dana Branzei investigates how cells are able to repair and tolerate DNA damage and how the various DNA repair mechanisms are coupled with each other and with other cellular processes. With her studies on the inner workings of error-free DNA damage tolerance, she achieved a breakthrough: she was able to demonstrate that DNA repair mechanisms are integrated into the recognition of DNA damage and into the reactions of chromatin assembly.

These processes take place within the replisome, the biochemical machinery responsible for the duplication of the genome. Dana Branzei has focused on the complex question of how simultaneous processes occur in cells that link genome duplication with DNA repair and chromosome assembly. Her research findings make a fundamental contribution to the understanding of genes that mediate a predisposition to the development of cancer. Their findings also support research into the causes of genome changes that are often triggered by chemotherapy.

About the person
Born in Romania, Dr. Dana Branzei has been a scientist at the Institute of Molecular Oncology (AIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology) in Milan, Italy, since 2008 and Research Director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) since 2020. After her studies in Japan, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the RIKEN Institute in Wako. She has been an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) since 2016. She was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2016 after successfully obtaining an ERC Starting Grant. In her home country of Romania, Dana Branzei was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit for her scientific achievements.