Cellular Biochemistry

The Institute for Cellular Biology, headed by Prof. Dr. Peter Rehling, focuses on research of the complex process of cellular energy production. Heart muscle is constantly at work to supply the body with a sufficient amount of blood. A sufficient amount of energy must be supplied to the heart muscle cells so that they can produce the necessary contractions. In all cells of the body, mitochondria serve as a kind of power plant, and their productivity is particularly important for heart muscle cells. In the mitochondria, the energy stemming from food intake is converted to the energy units of our body, ATP. 95% of the oxygen we inhale and which is taken up into the blood stream is used for this process. Damaged mitochondria lead to impairment of the cellular metabolism and thus to energy loss and organ dysfunctions. Due to its high energy demands, heart muscle is particularly dependent on the supply of ATP.

At the Institute for Cellular Biochemistry we strive to understand how mitochondrial dysfunction leads to heart failure and other cardiac disorders. We therefore study this problem using models based on selected examples of cardiomyopathy such as Barth syndrome, with the goal of discovering possible new therapy approaches. We are also interested in understanding the importance of energy metabolism for the disease course in heart failure. To address this, the institute uses biochemical techniques in isolated cells and tissue sections. We employ disease models, for instance in the mouse, to study mitochondrial diseases. Additional research areas of our institute are concerned with molecular cell biological questions: in human cells, we investigate the structure of individual components of the respiratory chain, the “machinery” behind mitochondria, since disturbance of this process often leads to neuromuscular or cardiac diseases.

Scientific Cooperations and Training

The molecular context of our work places our research on the border between molecular medicine and clinical/physiological topics. In addition to the direct application of our studies to disease-related questions, we primarily aim to understand the basic processes responsible for preservation and formation of functioning mitochondria. These questions enable us to participate in a number of cooperations with other work groups at other faculties of the Göttingen Campus. Our work group has been associated with the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry since 2011. The Institute for Cellular Biochemistry participates in the preclinical study program for both medical and dentistry students. In addition, we teach students of the molecular medicine program who are particularly interested in translational research. Our institute is also actively engaged in molecular research questions in the framework of the international Max Planck Graduate School program “Molecular Biology”.

Prof. Dr. Peter Rehling
Prof. Dr. Peter Rehling
Additional information / Links