Email  |  Website

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Kristian Strømgaard

PhD, Professor, Center Director, Group Leader

Center for Biopharmaceuticals, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology

Kristian Strømgaard is Professor in Chemical Biology and Director of Center for Biopharmaceuticals at the Department of Drug Design & Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen. The overall focus of the Strømgaard Lab is studies of protein-protein interactions with putative therapeutic relevance. The research combines tools from chemistry and biology to provide molecular-level insight into the functions and mechanisms and to develop peptide-based inhibitors of these interactions. He is co-founder of Avilex Pharma, a spin out company from the University of Copenhagen with investments from Wellcome Trust and Novo Seeds developing inhibitors of PDZ domain proteins to target unmet medical needs.
Prof. Strømgaard is the coordinator for the European Training Network PDZnet.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm), France

Pascale Zimmermann

PhD, Professor, Research Director, Group Leader

Marseille Cancer Research Center (CRCM)

Pascale Zimmermann is Research Director at CRCM, INSERM and Professor in Cell Biology at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Her laboratory investigates novel pathways controlling cell signaling and cell-cell communication and explores their potential benefit in the cancer area. Studies focus on scaffolding proteins such as heparan sulfate proteoglycans and PDZ proteins and lipids that are important for the spatio-temporal organization of cell signaling. The laboratory studies the effects of these components on the turnover of signaling receptors, their role in cell-cell communication and their impact on nuclear processes. She was an EMBO young investigator and was granted the Academic Award for Fundamental Research in Medicine (period 2003-2006) from the Royal Academy of Medicine in Belgium.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm), France

Jean-Paul Borg

PhD, Professor, Center Director, Group Leader

Marseille Cancer Research Center (CRCM)

Jean-Paul Borg is Director of CRCM at INSERM and Professor in Cell Biology at Aix-Marseille University. His scientific expertise spans from cell biology and cell signaling to protein-protein interaction and cell polarity. His team is recognized for discoveries of PDZ domain mediated interactions, the latest achievement being the release of the full human PDZ domain collection and the discovery of cell polarity networks and functions. His research team comprises strong expertise in cell biology, proteomics and genetics, and is funded by national and international competitive funds. He is scientific Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Marseille (Institut Paoli-Calmettes), co-Head of the national IBiSA Proteomic Platform, and Vice-Dean of Research at Faculty of Pharmacy, Aix-Marseille University.

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Uppsala University, Sweden

Ylva Ivarsson

PhD, Associate Professor, Group Leader

Department of Chemistry – BMC

Ylva Ivarsson is Associate Professor in Biochemistry at the Department of Chemistry, Uppsala University. Her research is focused on elucidating the molecular recognition events that underlie cell signaling in health and disease. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the Ivarsson lab combines proteomic peptide phage display, bioinformatics, biophysical experiments and cell biological assays to unravel novel interactions and to explore their cellular function.
Dr. Ivarsson is Director of research work package 1 of PDZnet.

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Uppsala University, Sweden

Per Jemth

PhD, Senior Lecturer, Group Leader

Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology – BMC

Per Jemth is Senior Lecturer at Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University. The research in the Jemth lab is focused on mechanistic and evolutionary studies of protein-protein interactions and protein folding with particular focus on intrinsically disordered proteins. The lab also studies human papillomavirus proteins as potential drug targets. The research combines biophysics, bioinformatics, protein engineering and cell biology to address fundamental questions related to protein structure and function.
Dr. Jemth is the Director of Training for PDZnet.

Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Stefano Gianni

PhD, Professor, Group Leader

Department of Biochemical sciences

Stefano Gianni is Professor of Biochemistry at the Sapienza University of Rome. The focus of the Gianni Lab is to use biochemical and biophysical methods to elucidate the thermodynamics, kinetics and mechanisms of folding and recognition of proteins. More recently, the lab has also become interested in the function of intrinsically disordered proteins, to understand the role of disorder in protein-protein interactions.
Prof. Gianni is Director of research work package 3 of PDZnet.

Email  |  Website

Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany

Stefan Knapp

PhD, Professor, Group Leader

Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Buchmann Institute for Life Sciences

Stefan Knapp is Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt. The research focus of the group is on structural mechanisms regulating cellular signaling and on the design of highly selective protein inhibitors. The research group has a long experience in structural biology using X-ray crystallography as well as in the design and development of specific protein interaction inhibitors.

Email  |  Website

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Germany

Toby Gibson

PhD, Team Leader

Structural and Computational Biology Research Unit

Toby Gibson is Team Leader for the biological sequence analysis team at EMBL and has extensive experience in computational biology. He is a co-developer Clustal W/X, the most widely used multiple sequence alignment software. The Gibson lab investigates protein sequences and interactions, undertakes computational analyses of macromolecules, and develops tools to enhance sequence analysis research. The team hosts the Eukaryotic Linear Motif (ELM) resource dedicated to short functional site motifs in modular protein sequences. This is used to characterize short stretches of protein sequences that mediate protein-protein interactions. The lab also undertakes more general computational analyses of biological macromolecules.

Email  |  Website

Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC-CERBM), Strasbourg, France

Gilles Travé

PhD, Group Leader

Department of Integrated Structural Biology

The research of Gilles Travé is focused on studies of the 3D structure of oncoproteins from human papillomaviruses (HPV) and their multiple interactions with cellular proteins or other target molecules. The lab is particularly interested in understanding how sequence variation of HPV proteins across species dictates differences in cancer risk and tropism. The Travé lab also develops high-throughput approaches for measuring protein-protein interactions, allowing quantitative measurement of affinities and specificities at a proteome-wide scale.
Dr. Travé is co-Director of Dissemination for PDZnet.

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Institut Pasteur, France

Nicolas Wolff

PhD, Group leader

Department of Structural Biology and Chemistry

The Wolff group addresses fundamental molecular aspects of neuronal signaling pathways and develops molecules and antivirals with pro-survival and anti-proliferative properties. The research focuses on the role of cellular PDZ domain-containing proteins in diseases of the nervous system caused either by viral infections or genetic disorders. The Wolff group applies an integrative structural approach combining NMR, X-ray diffraction, mass spectrometry, SAXS experiments and other biophysical methods to study, in particular, PDZ-mediated host/virus interactions as well as PDZ-mediated interactions in the auditory sensory cells.
Dr. Wolff is co-Director of Dissemination for PDZnet.

Email  |  Website

Systasy Bioscience GmbH, Germany

Moritz Rossner

PhD, Professor, Director of Research, Group Leader

Moritz Rossner is Co-Founder and Director of Research at Systasy Bioscience GmbH and is Professor of Molecular and Behavioral Neurobiology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. The overall focus of Systasy is on the development of genetic biosensors including tools to monitor protein-protein interactions. The research at Systasy is mainly focused on the applications of biosensors in genetic and chemical screening assays in neuronal cellular systems. His group at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University mainly focuses on the generation and characterization of mouse models for neurological and psychiatric diseases and on the development of patient-derived cellular disease models.
Prof. Rossner is Director of research work package 4 of PDZnet.

Email  |  Website

Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark

Søren Østergaard

PhD, Principal Scientist

Department of Peptide and Protein Chemistry

Søren Østergaard is a Principal Scientist at Novo Nordisk where he works with identification of novel or improved therapeutic peptides and peptidomimetics by solid phase peptide synthesis and combinatorial or peptide array technologies. His major research focus is on the design of efficacious peptide hormones in diabetes and obesity, and also development insulin mimetics and ligands for haemophilia proteins, epitope mapping of antibodies to protease substrate array analysis. He has also contributed to the development of semaglutide, a once-weekly GLP-1 analogue in clinical phase III. He is involved in the Novo Nordisk talent ambassador program.
Dr.Østergaard is Director of research work package 2 of PDZnet.

Email  |  Website

Université Aix-Marseille, France

Renaud Vincentelli

PhD, Head of Facility

Structural Biology Core Facility, Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques (AFMB)

Renaud Vincentelli is the head of the IBiSA High-Throughput (HTP) protein production facility of AFMB. The team performs HTP cloning, expression, purification (>10.000 proteins produced to date) and interaction studies. The team has produced the full human PDZ repertoire (266 proteins) and characterized them with the HTP Hold-up assay, a novel in vitro quantitative protein-protein interaction assay. Dr Vincentelli has organized 3 EMBO courses in Marseille around HTP protein expression and crystallization.

Email  |  Website

NZYTech Ltd, Portugal

Carlos M. G. A. Fontes

PhD, Professor, Managing Director

Carlos M. G. A. Fontes is co-founder and Managing Director of NZYTech Genes & Enzymes, a leading biotech company in the fields of molecular biology, recombinant protein production and enzymatic test analysis. NZYTech provides the largest library of recombinant carbohydrate degrading enzymes (CAZymes) and PDZ domains. The research at NZYTech aims to develop novel technologies for high-throughput gene synthesis, gene cloning and recombinant protein production. He is a Professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, where his research is focused on carbohydrate bioengineering and the function of plant cell wall degrading enzymes and protein complexes (also termed cellulosomes).

The Network

The PDZnet network includes 11 academic research groups and 3 industrial partners distributed across 6 European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Sweden). The network provides an international and multidisciplinary PhD training platform for 14 next-generation researchers (PhD students).


In four interdisciplinary and complementary research work packages the PDZnet network will advance the understanding of PDZ domain proteins as molecular hubs for cell signaling and as therapeutic targets for treating cancer and neurological diseases.

Meet the Fellows

We train 14 PhD fellows to become independent, creative and innovative scientist by providing cutting-edge knowledge, a diverse and comprehensive technology platform, and transferable skills training making the young researchers attractive candidates for research positions in academia or industry.