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Research topics

1. Antibody-mediated immune reactions to endogenous proteins

One of the major challenges in understanding the complex immune system is the question when and why this defense system attacks endogenous proteins (i.e. self-proteins). In the frame of an ERC Starting Grant (PredicTOOL), we focus our research on antibody-mediated immune reactions to endogenous proteins. By high sensitivity nanotechnological tools based on spectroscopic and imaging techniques (e.g. Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy, Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy, Isothermal Titration Calorimetry, Fluorescence Microscopy), we characterize the interaction of autoantibodies with their antigens and further interaction with cells of the immune system.


2. Mechanobiology of iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes on 3D substrates towards improved implant surfaces

In the frame of a DZHK project, we investigate using 3D engineered surfaces with various properties (e.g. size, shape, elasticity) the mechanobiology of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CM) under physiological and pharmacological conditions. The primary goal is to understand the mechanisms through which the complex physico-chemical interactions between cardiomyocytes and their environment are translated into biochemical and cellular responses.The results will serve to understand the basic functionality of cardiac cells and will allow fabricating in vitro myocardial tissue constructs.

Adv Healthc Mater. 2016 Feb 4;5(3):335-41. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201500740.



3. Immunogenicity of nanoparticles

The BMBF funded project aims to predict & control using in vitro tools the immunogenicity of biomaterials (nanoparticles) by adjusting the physical properties (e.g. size, geometry, surface charge), the structural composition (e.g. polymeric, metallic, hybrid) and the targeting ligands (e.g. antibodies, proteins, nucleic acids, sugars). 






  • Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (Microcal iTC 200)
  • Differential Scanning Calorimetry ( microcal VP DSC )
  • Circular Dichroism Spectrometry ( Chirascan )
  • Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation (Q-Sense)
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance (Biacore T200) for investigation of biomolecular interactions in real time, retrieving on-rate and off rate as well as dissociation constants
  • Dynamic Light Scattering (Zetasizer with green laser 533 nm) for measuring the size of biopolymeric aggregates
  • Ellipsometry
  • Scanning Electron Microscope (Zeiss SV 40) equipped with stem detector for transmission electron microscopy and silicon drift detector for identification of elements in the microscopic sample and Electron Beam Lithography (Raith) for production of nano-structures surfaces
  • Atomic Force Microscope (Bruker Catalyst) equipped with Microscope (Leica DMI 6000B) and Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF technique)
  • Atomic Force Microscope (JPK) equipped with laser scanning microscope (Olympus IX81),
  • Life Cell Microscope ( TILL Photonics ) equipped with highly sensitive Andor camera for detection of very weak fluorescent signals as well as with a high speed camera (2500 fps) for studies of cell migration cell activation. The microscope can be equipped with a precision pump system for studies of cells under flow conditions and cheer forces.
  • Chromatographic systems (ÄKTA Explorer) for purification of proteins
  • Chromatographic system for analytical separations of biomolecules (ÄKTA Micro)
  • Asymmetric field flow fractionation system ECLIPSE (Wyatt Technology) combined with an AGILENT HPLC system, for separation of large proteins and protein aggregates in a matrix free flow cell; the system is also equipped with a highly sensitive flow-through refractometer (Wyatt) for samples non absorbing in UV-light



July 2017

Daksh Daksh, Lucie Pieckova and Brahmaiah Meesaragandla joined the group to study the nanoparticle immunogenicity within a BMBF project. Welcome!

March 2017

Annelie Klein joined the group to work on a collaborative project in the frame of the MV Exzellenzinitiative. Welcome, Annelie!


October 2016

Dr. Alena Rong joined the group to work on a collaborative project with DZHK partner site Göttingen. Welcome, Alena!


September 2016

A review paper on the biophysics of PF4/polyanion interaction is now online:



July 2016

Ane Escobar, PhD student in the group of Dr. Sergio Moya (CIC biomaGUNE, San Sebastian, Spain) joined our lab for four month research stay.


New paper accepted! Congratulations Ricardo!



April 2016

New paper accepted! Congratulations Huong!



Una Janke and Dr. Florian Berg joined the group to work on the ERC Starting Grant project "Nanomethods to understand what makes an endogenous protein immunogenic". Welcome!


February 2016

Joint publication with the group of Sergio Moya (CICbiomaGUNE, San Sebastian, Spain). Congratulations Ricardo!



December 2015

New paper accepted! Congratulations Raghav & Michael!



July 2015

New paper accepted! Congratulations Sven!




June 2015

Mandy Berner joined the group to start her medical diploma thesis on the thermal stability of PF4/heparin complexes. Welcome, Mandy!


Ina Buchholz joined the group to work on the ERC Starting Grant project "Nanomethods to understand what makes an endogenous protein immunogenic". Welcome, Ina!


April 2015

New paper accepted! Congratulations Huong!



February 2015

Two new papers have been accepted! Congratulations Tania, Raghav and Stephan!


"Multifunctional gold nanorods for selective plasmonic photothermal therapy in pancreatic cancer cells using ultra-short pulse near-infrared laser irradiation"



"Sequence-controlled RNA self-processing: computational design, biochemical analysis and visualization by AFM"




January 2015

Martin Kreimann defended his PhD thesis. Congrats Dr. Kreimann!


December 2014

Sven Brandt defended his PhD thesis. Congrats Dr. Brandt!


November 2014

Michael Glaubitz defended his PhD thesis. Congrats Dr. Glaubitz!


August 2014

Our paper entitled "Interaction between Platelet Factor 4 and Heparins: Thermodynamics determines Conformational Changes required for binding of Anti-Platelet Factor 4/Heparin Antibodies" is now accepted for publication in BLOOD journal. Congrats to Martin and Sven in particular!



June 2014

Our paper on the novel contact model for AFM indentation experiments on soft spherical-like particles was accepted in Soft Matter journal. Congratulations to Michael in particular!



A joint publication on nanoplasmonically-induced defects in lipid membrane monitored by ion current was recently accepted in NanoLetters. Congratulations, Raghav!



Our paper on the stiffness of Left Ventricular Cardiac Fibroblasts Associated With Ventricular Dilation in Patients With Recent-Onset Nonischemic and Nonvalvular Cardiomyopathy is now online in Circulation Journal.



April 2014

Alba Matas, PhD student at the ICIQ (Tarragona, Spain) joined our lab for five month research stay. Welcome!


Our paper on the characterization of the conformational changes in platelet factor 4 induced by polyanions accepted in Thrombosis and Haemostasis is now online.



March 2014

Our paper on lanthanide-doped nanoparticles for specific recognition of Toll-like Receptor (TLR) in human neutrophils in collaboration with the group of Prof. Emilio Palomares (ICIQ, Tarragona, Spain)accepted in RSC Advances is now online.



Tania Patiño, PhD student at the Univesitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain) joined our lab for five month research stay. Welcome!


Januar 2014

Our paper on micropatterned array to assess the interaction of single platelets with platelet factor 4-heparin-IgG complexes accepted in Thrombosis and Haemostasis is now online.



Our paper on the characterization of the bonds formed between platelet factor 4 and negatively charged drugs using single molecule force spectroscopy was accepted in Soft Matter.



Oktober 2013

Our paper on the design of hybrid multimodal nanoparticles for neutrophil labeling, imaging and tracking, in collaboration with the group of Dr. Sergio Moya (CICbiomaGUNE, San Sebastian, Spain) was accepted in Nanoscale.



July 2013

Dr. Thi Huong Nguyen and Dr. Ricardo Pires joined the group. Welcome!


April 2013

Our paper on the fabrication of quantum dot microarrays using electron beam lithography for applications in analyte sensing and cellular dynamics was accepted in ACS Nano.



March 2013

Yuan Qiu, PhD student in the group of Dr. Sergio Moya (CIC biomaGUNE, San Sebastian, Spain) and Ivan Castelló Serrano, PhD student in the group of Prof. Emilio Palomares (ICIQ Institute, Tarragona, Spain) joined our lab for three month research stay. Their strong background in chemistry and their expertise in generating materials for biomedical purposes will contribute significantly to the research at ZIK HIKE.