Dr. Sonja Lorenz, group leader

Sonja obtained a diploma in biochemistry from the University of Regensburg, Germany, where she explored biomineralization processes with Prof. Eike Brunner. As an undergraduate student she also investigated protein folding pathways with Prof. Susan Marqusee at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Sonja’s graduate work with Prof. Iain Campbell and Prof. Martin Noble at the University of Oxford, UK, focused on the structural mechanisms of cell adhesion and migration. As a post-doc, Sonja moved back to the University of California, Berkeley, to join Prof. John Kuriyan’s laboratory. During that time, Sonja worked on the activation mechanism of the non-receptor tyrosine kinase c-Abl and on ubiquitination reactions in collaboration with Prof. Michael Rape. Sonja is fascinated by the intricate mechanisms that dynamically regulate protein functions  in the cell. 

What Sonja likes about Würzburg: her lab members and colleagues, the grand piano in the lecture theater, and the many concerts all over the city


  lenap1    Lena Ries, graduate student

Lena holds a B.Sc. degree in biochemistry and a M.Sc. degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Bayreuth, Germany. She conducted her M.Sc. research with Prof. Franz-Xaver Schmid, establishing new tools to study protein folding. Lena now uses functional assays and structural techniques – both NMR and X-ray crystallography – to reveal how ubiquitination enzymes achieve their specificity.  Lena is a member of the award-winning international “Graduate School of Life Sciences” (GSLS) in Würzburg and a Kekulé fellow of the “Fonds der chemischen Industrie”.

What Lena likes about Würzburg: sitting in the sun at the river Main and drinking wine on the Alte Mainbrücke


test23    Marie-Annick Lambert, graduate student

Marie-Annick joined our lab from the University of Strasbourg, France, where she obtained a B.Sc. degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and a M.Sc. degree in life and health science. Her M.Sc. work with Prof. Jean Cavarelli at IGBMC, Strasbourg, included biochemical and X-ray crystallographic studies on protein arginine methyltransferases. Building on this background in posttranslational protein modifications, Marie-Annick now performs crystallographic studies on select components of the ubiquitination machinery. Marie-Annick is a GSLS member.

What Marie-Annick likes about Würzburg: the beautiful and dynamic city and the environment at the Rudolf Virchow Center, which is really friendly and motivating


bodo4    Dr. Bodo Sander, postdoc

Bodo earned a diploma in human biology from the University of Marburg, Germany, where he investigated ligand binding to eubacterial dodecins in the lab of Prof. Lars-Oliver Essen. As a graduate student Bodo joined Prof. Hermann Schindelin’s group in Würzburg to dissect the molecular underpinnings of inhibitory glycine and GABAA receptor clustering.  Following his PhD degree Bodo was awarded a GSLS career development scholarship to continue this work on postsynaptic specializations. As a postdoc in our lab Bodo now wants to reveal how ubiquitination enzymes are regulated.

What Bodo likes about Würzburg: the high number of historical buildings, the hilly landscape and that most of the important places are within easy reach


anna    Anna Eller, graduate student

Anna studied biochemistry at the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Germany. She performed her diploma thesis research in Prof. Werner Kuehlbrandt’s department at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt, where she determined the crystal structures of cation/proton antiporters in various states. A member of the GSLS, Anna’s doctoral studies in our lab focus on the structural and functional characterization of ubiquitination enzymes, using X-ray crystallography and in vitro as well as cell-based assays.

What Anna likes about Würzburg: the mix of historical buildings and the lively city, especially in spring and summer, and to meet at the Alte Mainbrücke for a glass of wine


anna    Barbara Orth, graduate student

Barbara graduated with a MSc degree in chemistry from the University of Marburg, Germany. She conducted her MSc thesis work in Prof. Thorsten Stiewe’s laboratory, where she performed genome-wide analyses of p63 target genes in squamous cell carcinoma. As a PhD student Barbara is affiliated with our new interdisciplinary research training group (“GRK2243:”Understanding ubiquitylation: from molecular mechanisms to disease“) and is co-supervised by Prof. Martin Eilers.

What Barbara likes about Würzburg: nice places for jogging and riding a bike in the Ringpark and near the river Main and that everything is close to each other


anna    Rahul Nair, graduate student

Rahul holds a MSc degree in biotechnology from Amrita University, India, and performed his thesis work under the guidance of Prof. Sudhir Krishna at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. Subsequently, Rahul joined Prof. Aravind Penmatsa’s laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, to acquire skills in membrane protein crystallography. Rahul joined us as a PhD student within the framework of GRK2243.

What Rahul likes about Würzburg: Alte Mainbrueke, biking tours, visiting the historic museums and churches and, of course, the WINE FESTIVALS


WechatIMG11    Dr. Dan Chen, postdoc

Dan obtained her diploma in biological sciences at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she also conducted her PhD studies in Prof. Pär Nordlund’s group. Dan’s PhD work focused on structural biology and fragment-based drug discovery on cancer-associated proteins involved in nucleotide synthesis and regulation. Dan continued the drug discovery work as a postdoc in Prof. Pär Nordlund’s group after graduation. As a postdoc in our lab Dan now explores macromolecular complexes formed by ubiquitination enzymes.

What Dan likes about Würzburg: the lovely city center alive with music, historical buildings, and that main places are near to each other.


passsfoto    Julia Haubenreisser, technical assistant

Julia was trained as a chemical technical assistant and has worked in various institutes of the University of Würzburg, at the EMBL Heidelberg, and in biotech industry.

What Julia likes about Würzburg: the many wine festivals and concerts all around Würzburg and to hike through the vinyards throughout the year


julia    Julia Schmidt, BSc student & lab assistant

Julia holds a BSc degree in biochemistry from the University of Würzburg and completed her thesis in our lab exploring new ligases. She continues to work in our lab part-time as “resident lab fairy”, while pursuing an MSc degree in biochemistry.

What Julia likes about Würzburg: meeting friends and having a BBQ at the river Main in the summer, the nice view over the city from the Festung Marienberg, the lovely little cafés, and the varied freetime activities that the city offers



Christian Weinberger & Dr. Bernhard Fröhlich, honorary lab members

Christian is an awesome photographer and took many of the pictures displayed on our website. Bernhard works a system administrator in our institute, is always in good spirits and of immense help to us.