Shova opened her own lab at the Indian Institute of Science

Congratulations to our former postdoc Shovamayee Maharana who moved back to India to the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and now has her own lab!

Shova was a joint postdoc with Simon Alberti (former MPI-CBG group leader, now TU-Dresden professor) working on RNA and its implications on phase separation of prion like proteins. In her landmark Science paper Shova showed that RNA is critically important for solubility of prion like proteins in the nucleus. Lowering of nuclear RNA levels led to cytotoxic protein aggregates. In addition to this work Shova contributed to a series of other papers from the Hyman and Alberti lab.

In her own lab, Shova will now work on the question how specific and non-specific interactions of RNA drive the phase separation of RNA binding proteins into condensates. She uses mammalian cell culture and in vitro reconstituted systems to work on these specific aims:

  • What are the roles of non-coding RNA in nuclear stress granule formation?
  • What are the factors controlling cellular RNA metabolism and how do they affect condensate formation?
  • What is the effect of RNA modifications on condensate formation?

Good luck to you Shova, and hope to hear a lot from your work in the coming years!

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The Hyman lab welcomes Anupa and Jik

The Hyman lab recently recruited two new postdocs, Anupa and Jik.

Anupa Majumdar started as a postdoc in the Hyman Lab in February 2021. She completed her PhD at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, India, followed by a three-year postdoctoral stint at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER Mohali), India. She is interested in studying the molecular grammar driving the phase-separation of coiled-coil proteins. 

Jik Nijssen started in February 2021 as a postdoc in the Hyman lab, after finishing his PhD at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. He will study phase separation in the context of neuronal functioning, growth and degeneration using human stem cell-derived motorneurons.

Welcome, Anupa and Jik!

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Ceciel Jegers defends PhD Thesis

Congratulations to Ceciel and all the best for your future!

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Tony gives the Keith Porter Lecture at Cell Bio Virtual 2020, (ASCB | EMBO)

The organizers of Cell Bio Virtual 2020, an online ASCB – EMBO meeting, invited Tony to give the Keith Porter Lecture. Keith Porter pioneered electron microscopy and employed it in the study of cellular organization. 

After an introduction from Professor Timothy Mitchison, Tony walked the audience through his scientific journey leading him to Dresden. There, his lab has been engaged in interdisciplinary Biophysical research since 2009 leading to discoveries in the field of phase separation. Throughout the lecture, the importance of taking the time to investigate observations off the beaten path and regularly engaging in scientific discussions was highlighted.

Analogies were used to explain the basic concepts and observations in the field, from the example of a vinaigrette to illustrate liquid-liquid demixing to the dynamic assembly of communities and societies. A summary of the grand challenges facing the emerging field of condensate biology was laid out. These challenges require the input of Biophysicists, polymer physicists, and molecular & structural biologists.

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The Hyman lab bids Amayra farewell

Amayra Hernández-Vega concluded a 6-year service in the Hyman Lab this November as a postdoc, with an impressive track record of publications and scientific outreach.

Amayra’s farewell had to be done in compliance with Coronavirus-safety measures, but a bigger celebration is planned when the pandemic eases up.

Amayra, we wish you a smooth start in Barcelona and look forward to welcoming you again in Dresden!

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Tony receives the 2021 HFSP Nakasone Award

The 2021 HFSP Nakasone Award recognises Tony and Cliff for the discovery of a new state of biological matter, namely, liquid-liquid phase separation. Since 2009, the Hyman and Brangwynne labs have observed biomolecular condensation in various cell types and organisms and have helped to determine their functions in physiological and pathological conditions.

Congratulations to the Hyman and Brangwynne labs!

Link to press release

Link to announcement PDF

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The Hyman lab welcomes Alexandra, Arsenii, MJ, and Peter

The Hyman lab recently recruited new members in different positions.


Maria-Jesus Olarte or “MJ” is starting as a postdoc in the Hyman lab. She completed her PhD at Harvard and Yale followed by a 1-year postdoc at Harvard, US. MJ is interested in studying the role of membranes in phase separation of protein complexes.

PhD Students

Alexandra Sergeeva is starting as a PhD student in the Hyman and Alberti Labs. The MPI-CBG has initiated rolling admissions for prospective PhD students who can apply through the IMPRS-CellDevoSys portal.

Masters Students

Arsenii Dmitriev is a Masters Student at the TU Dresden. He completed his Bachelor studies at the Kazan National Research Technological Institute, Russia. Arsenii is interested in how transcription factors form liquid-like compartments on DNA in vitro. In the Hyman lab, he plans to investigate protein properties responsible for compartmentalisation, the role of such compartments in vivo, and how their localisation as well as composition is regulated.

Peter Bos is a Masters Student at the Wageningen University, the Netherlands, specialising in Molecular life sciences. He Joined the lab through the a “student research internship” program organised by IMPRS-CellDevoSys. In the Hyman lab, he will be investigating the amyloid forming behaviour of certain proteins in vitro and in vivo. Applications to the internship program can be submitted here.

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Lab retreat in Freital – September 28th, 2020

The Hyman Lab held a 1-day-retreat at Schloss Burgk in Freital, Germany, to look back at progress made since last year, how the field of phase separation is taking shape, and the way forward from here.

Lab retreat group photo – Freital,DE 2020

Some impressions from the day:

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Podcast: a Career in Academia and Founding a BioTech Company

The Offspring group of the Max Planck PhD net talks with Tony about his carreer in academia and how he founded two BioTech companies.

The offspring magazine podcast series is “hosted for doctoral researchers by doctoral researchers. The team wants to make the process of getting a doctorate more transparent and raise awareness for career opportunities inside and outside of science”
Enjoy listening!

you can listen as well on any of the other platforms

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The Postdoc Summer Chalk Talks 2020 continue with Patrick McCall and Samir Vaid

Even though it’s 35°C outside and the wasp season is in full swing, a sizeable group of scientists gathered outside the entrance of the MPI-CBG to listen to Patrick McCall and Samir Vaid walk them through their research interests and outcomes in the second week of our summer chalk talk series.

Patrick McCall, an ELBE postdoc working at the Hyman and Brugués labs, started with a talk on “reverse-engineering biomolecular phases with quantitative phase microscopy”. His goal is to probe the connection between how cells design proteins from a pool of amino acids in native and modified states so that they have the desired properties that drive compartmentalisation.

Patrick McCall describes the frequency-dependent material response of the actin cortex as an example of a desirable property the cell developed through the design of the cytoskeleton

Experimentally, Patrick deploys quantitative phase microscopy using a holographic microscope at MPI-CBG to measure the refractive index of condensates formed by proteins in vitro. In aqueous solutions, the refractive index is linearly proportional to the concentration of the protein, allowing for the plotting of the binodal curve in the phase diagram. Patrick aims to manipulate the sequence of proteins known to phase separate at physiological conditions and plot their phase diagrams to deduce the effect of sequence variations on the behaviour and consequently the compartmentalisation of given proteins. By generating enough data from experiments, he then aims to infer parameters that can be used when simulating how the phase diagram of other, untested proteins would respond to changes in the sequence of said proteins, thereby predicting how mutations in genes and changes in protein sequence would affect the compartmentalisation and consequently activity of a given protein in cells.

Samir Vaid explains the role of CSF composition in determining the length of the neurogenic period in the developing mouse embryo

Samir Vaid from the Huttner lab then explained his work on examining the role of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) composition in determining the length of the neurogenic period in the developing mouse embryo. Samir performed proteomic and computational analysis to determine the composition of the CSF at different stages of development of the mouse embryo to find the components that could determine how long the neurogenic period lasts. He aims to unveil whether manipulating the levels of these components would prolong the neurogenic period, thereby increasing the size of the upper layers of the neocortex of the mouse.

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