Staff scientists

Marek Kučka, Senior staff scientist


Sequencing technologies

What I do: I am currently focused on development and implementation of haplotagging, our new linked-read DNA sequencing method. This method allows for a cheap and high-throughput linked-read DNA sequencing using magnetic beads, Tn5-transposase and millions of barcodes.

What interests me: Molecular biology methods, Linked-read sequencing, Whole genome sequencing 
Where I’m from:  Country in the heart of Europe, Slovakia
Lab favourite: The lab-bench ….and the brain!

Insa Hirschberg


In vitro recombination and differentiation

What I do: I am part of the HybridMiX project with the goal of inducing in vitro recombination in hybrid mESCs and hence being able to generate cell lines with unique chromosomal combinations in a petri dish. I am looking forward to all the opportunities this new technique comes up with opening a whole new field to discover genetic markers.

What interests me: Immunology, FACS, tissue culture 
Where I’m from:  I grew up in a small town close to Hanover in Lower Saxony, Germany
Lab favourite: The chance to discover new things no one saw before. And surface tension – can be pretty helpful ;-)

Min Zheng (part time)


In vitro recombination and differentiation

What I do: I am aiming on generating cell lines carrying unique mosaic genome in hybrid mESCs by IVR technology (in petri dishes). Average distribution of cross-overs on each pair of chromosomes would be the ideal outcomes and can provide meaningful hints to understand the connections among genes as well as to the potential related phenotype.

What interests me: Evolutionary genetics, Stem cell technology, whole genome Sequencing, NGS analysis, single cell analysis. 
Where I’m from:  Tao-Hua-Yuan, a small town full of peach blossom in the spring time, located in south of China
Lab favourite: 1. Microscope (to see something one cannot see normally) 2. brainstorming in a group. 3. Live and learn


Layla Hiramatsu


Population genomics of selection response

What I do: How do small populations respond to selection? I use population and quantitative genetics to understand the molecular basis of evolution, using breeding experiments with mice. By retracing genomic changes for every individual, at every locus, in the entire genome in a well-controlled environment, I hope to shed insight on how we could improve current genomic dissections of evolution occurring in natural populations.

What interests me: Experimental evolution, Evolutionary genetics, Population genetics
Where I’m from: Raised in sunny southern California
Lab favourite: R

PhD students

João Castro (IMPRS)


Evo-Devo of the mammalian limb

What I do: I am currently exploring how enhancers contribute to limb morphological adaptations, such as the long hindlimbs in jerboas and wing bones in bats. For this I have been developing a technique that allows in vitro assessment of enhancer activity in whole limb tissue, which I hope will enable the recovery of fore- and hindlimb specific enhancer activity changes.

What interests me: Gene regulation evolution, specifically how regulatory sequence modification changes embryonic development and alter morphology
Where I’m from:  I am from a very small village called Maia, in the island of São Miguel (Azores, Portugal). It’s a wonderful place, and if you are ever around don’t forget to treat yourself to whale watching and a volcano-cooked meal (literally, nothing better than a bit of sulfur taste with your chicken)
Lab favourite: PCR machine. PCR – the one thing that rules them all

Michelle Yancoskie


Genomic factors in regulating transcription

(PhD defended on 5.Nov, 2019)


What I do: I'm currently wrapping up my work on testing for genomic features and factors that predict transcriptionn, and in doing so help link distal regulatory elements like enhancers to their target promoters accurately. For my next steps I'm looking for a postdoc position that will let me explore chromatin looping!

What interests me: How do chromatin loops form and progress, and what stalls them? How do enhancers find their targets, often skipping over closer promoters?
Where I’m from:  Born and raised in Germany (U.S. military brat), then Southern California
Lab favourite: Loops! "For", "if", and chromatin loops. One time when I first started, Frank told me to program a touchdown PCR. Half an hour later he saw that I was still at the PCR machine, painstakingly typing in one cycle at a time. "You need to learn how to program," Frank told me. That's when I started to learn loops. :)

MSc students

Moritz Peters (Mol. Cell Biol. & Immun.)


Genetic basis of stemness maintenance

What I do: I am analysing the transcriptome of in vitro recombinant F1 hybrid mouse embryonic stem cells and aim towards mapping strain-specific QTLs that can explain differences in pluripotent maintenance between the respective mouse strains.

What interests me: Identification of gene expression patterns regulating Pluripotency in early development of mouse embryonic stem cells 
Where I’m from:  Muenster, a city in the north-west of Germany
Lab favourite: In vitro recombination! and leukemia inhibitory factor - it's the stuff my stem cells lif for.

Volker Soltys (Mol. Cell Biol. & Immun.)


Single-cell genomics with hybrid stem cells

What I do: I’m studying the behaviour of hybrid stem cells on a single cell level which are subjected to varying degrees of differentiation in order to track down species-specific traits. To maximise throughput and minimise costs, I want take advantage of our microfluidic setup for single-cell approaches.

What interests me: Developmental Biology, Microfluidics, Evolutionary Genomics 
Where I’m from:  Fellbach, city near Stuttgart, Germany
Lab favourite: Size selection beads – it’s like magic!

Dingwen Su (Neuroscience)


Single-cell/molecule (epi)genomics

What I do: ATAC-seq in samples from Bloom syndrome families and DNA combing techniques.

What interests me:  Epigenetics, NGS techniques and pluripotency maintenance and differentiation of embryonic stem cells
Where I’m from:  Ezhou, a city in middle China along the Yangzi River
Lab favourite: Q5 polymerase, a true friend of DNA