Sonja Lorenz  

position: group leader

home town: Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany

freetime favourites: singing, playing music, and tennis

Throughout my scientific career I have been fascinated by the question of how dynamic macromolecular interactions orchestrate the complexity of life. As an undergraduate with Prof. Eike Brunner (Regensburg, Germany) I used NMR spectroscopy to reveal how posttranslational modifications drive the astounding nanopatterning of diatom biosilica. With Prof. Susan Marqusee (Berkeley, CA, USA) I dissected fundamentals of protein folding.

During my graduate studies with Profs. Iain D. Campbell and Martin Noble (Oxford, UK) I combined NMR and X-ray crystallography to elucidate how promiscuous protein interactions and intrinsic disorder govern signaling in focal adhesions and developed a passion for the structural mechanisms of posttranslational modifications. To pursue this interest, I returned to Berkeley as a postdoc to study tyrosine kinases with Prof. John Kuriyan. Supported by a career development award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I focused my research on the ubiquitin system. In collaboration with Prof. Michael Rape (Berkeley, USA) I studied how the human anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C), an essential multi-subunit ligase, achieves linkage specificity in ubiquitin chain formation. This work unveiled fundamental principles of catalysis and specificity in ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes and prepared the conceptual grounds for my independent research group. Originally located at the University of Würzburg, our lab relocated to Göttingen in 2021. We are excited to engage with the fantastic technical and collaborative infrastructure at the MPI-BPC in all aspects of cell and structural biology, particularly making use of cryo-EM as a principal tool.

Inspired by my experience with living in different countries, I love working in an international team and hope to recruit new team members from around the globe who share our passion for the scientific endeavor.

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