SFB 1032: Nanoagents for Spatiotemporal Control of Molecular and Cellular Reactions

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ERC Consolidator Grant to Ralf Jungmann


The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a Consolidator Grant to Prof. Ralf Jungmann, PI of the SFB1032.  The awards are worth up to 2 million euros over the course of 5 years. The ERC’s Consolidator Grants are intended to enable highly qualified academics to further extend their innovative research programs. The ERC’s decisions are based solely on the scientific stature of the applicant and the intrinsic quality of the proposed project.

Ralf Jungmann is Professor for Experimental Biophysics at LMU Munich and head of the research group “Molecular Imaging and Bionanotechnology” at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried.

One of the major aims of many therapeutics is targeting cell surface proteins to alter cellular behavior. Recently approved immunotherapeutic drugs trigger anti-tumor immunity by disrupting key cell surface proteins that guide immune cell interactions. Despite the cell surface representing a major site of drug action, its nanoscale organization remains poorly characterized. The main reason for this is largely due to technical limitations of fluorescence imaging approaches. Current techniques do not allow high-throughput measurements of the spatial localization and interaction of hundreds of proteins with true single-protein-resolution on cell surfaces. With the ERC Consolidator Grant “ReceptorPAINT – Imaging Receptomics as a tool for biomedical discovery”, Jungmann and his research team aim to develop novel imaging technologies based on DNA-PAINT microscopy to enable the visualization and quantification of all relevant cell surface proteins at single-protein-resolution. To achieve this, the scientists plan to increase spatial resolution, develop DNA-based protein binders against all cell surface proteins, and devise multiplexing capabilities to resolve them with single-protein-resolution over large fields of view. The researchers will then use these new capabilities to map the nanoscale organization of hundreds of key immunomodulatory surface proteins and their corresponding ligands on key interacting pairs of immune cells relevant to current immunotherapy approaches. Jungmann wants to test the central hypothesis that surface protein architecture and patterning on immune and tumor cells dictates the outcome of their interactions. The techniques could yield fundamental insights into the molecular architecture of immune cell interactions and enable the future development of more refined “pattern”-based immunotherapeutics.

Ralf Jungmann studied physics at Saarland University and the University of California in Santa Barbara and received his doctorate at the Technical University of Munich. He then worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, USA. In 2014 he moved to Munich to head the Emmy Noether research group “Molecular Imaging and Bionanotechnology” at the MPI of Biochemistry and the Faculty of Physic of the LMU. Since 2016, Ralf Jungmann has been Professor of Experimental Physics at LMU.


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