Humboldt Professorship for Management Member of the Max-Planck-Zentrum

Kristian Franze receives five million euros for his research on physical biology. He has been selected by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for a Humboldt Professorship - the highest endowed international research prize in Germany. He will be a member of the Executive Board of the Max-Planck-Zentrum für Physik und Medizin, a joint research center of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, FAU and the University Hospital Erlangen.

Kristian Franze is one of the leading scientists investigating the significance of mechanics for the nervous system and has decisively shaped this growing field of research. At the FAU, he will now introduce concepts from physics into medical research. Franze will be a member of the board of directors at the Max-Planck-Zentrum für Physik und Medizin in Erlangen, where he will combine both research areas in an interdisciplinary manner. At the same time, as Humboldt Professor, he will become Director of the Institute for Medical Physics and Microtissue Technology at the FAU.

From our eyes to the brain and all the way down to our toes – our bodies are full of nerve cells. They decide how we perceive the world and control our responses. But how do nerve cells know in which direction they are supposed to extend and which cells they should connect with? And what can influence or disrupt the function of these nerve cells and, in the worst case, trigger disease? This is where Kristian Franze’s research has broken new ground. He has demonstrated that nerve cells are not only crucially influenced by chemical signals, which has long been known, but also by mechanical forces. Tissue stiffness, for example, plays an important role in nerve function and development and can also change after injury. Improving our understanding of these processes could help to stimulate nerve growth through previously destroyed tissue and, one day, even lead to therapies for paraplegia.

About the prizewinner

Born in Germany, Kristian Franze has been a reader at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, since 2017. After completing a degree in veterinary science at the University of Leipzig, where he completed a doctoral degree in physics in 2007, a Humboldt Foundation Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship took him to the University of Cambridge as a postdoctoral researcher. He subsequently worked at the University of Leipzig before returning to Cambridge in 2011 to continue his academic career as a lecturer. He has received numerous international awards for his research including an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2018.

About the award

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awards this professorship to internationally leading researchers from all disciplines who are currently working abroad. The aim of Alexander von Humboldt professorships is to enable German universities to bring top researchers to Germany and to offer them a long-term perspective for their work here. The professorships are funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research and are endowed with up to five million euros over five years. Further information about Humboldt Professorships is available on the website.



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