Helge Großhans

Helge studied Biotechnology at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany. He entered the world of RNA biology during his PhD at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where he worked with Dr. Georgios Simos and Dr. Ed Hurt on tRNA biogenesis and nuclear export in yeast. Moving up the ‘evolutionary ladder’, Helge joined the lab of Dr. Frank Slack at Yale University to work on miRNAs (then still termed stRNAs for small temporal RNAs) in C. elegans. In 2005, Helge accepted a junior group leader position at the FMI, and was promoted to senior group leader with tenure in 2011. The work of his team focused initially on miRNA function and regulation, but has subsequently diversified to other areas of RNA and developmental biology. Thus, Helge’s current research interests also include developmental clocks (with support from an ERC Advanced Grant) and posttranscriptional mechanisms of (stem) cell fate control in worms and mammals (with support from the SNF and the National Competence Center for Research “RNA and Disease”). Across projects, Helge is particularly interested in understanding molecular mechanisms as they operate in physiological contexts.


Nahar, Smita_5928Smita Nahar

Smita has studied Biochemistry in her Bachelor’s and Master’s at the University of Delhi, India. She then pursued her PhD at CSIR – Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi, in miRNA therapeutics, where she developed novel tools to target aberrantly expressed miRNAs in cancer. Fascinated by the role of these tiny regulators, she is now interested to explore the importance of their stability in shaping development and mechanisms that promote their turnover in C. elegans.

Towbin, Benjamin_3544Benjamin Towbin

The book “Optima for Animals” by R. McNeill Alexander made Benjamin fascinated by the ability of animals to adapt their phenotype to their environment. In the Grosshans lab, he combines theory and experiments to understand how, and why, worms change how fast they grow, develop, and age, depending on the food they get. Benjamin thereby unites his expertise is in C. elegans epigenetics (PhD with Susan Gasser, FMI) and in quantitative systems biology (postdoc with Uri Alon, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel).

Liu, Jun_1024Jun Liu

Jun is from Shanghai and did his B.Sc at Nanjing University (China). He studied axon guidance in C. elegans during his Ph.D. with Dr. Ian Chin-Sang at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. As a postdoc, Jun is currently studying LIN-41 and NHL-2 for their roles in post-transcriptional gene silencing in C. elegans.

Gudipatti, Rajani 0155Rajani Kanth Gudipatti

Rajani is from Anantapur, India, and studied Microbiology during his Bachelor of Science. He did his PhD on transcription termination and quality control of RNA using budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism at CGM, CNRS, Gif Sur Yvette. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab and is interested in understanding the role of Argonaute protein complexes in reproduction.

Carl, Sarah_0527Sarah Carl

Sarah is a postdoctoral fellow and computational biologist collaborating with both the Grosshans and Buehler labs at the FMI. After studying biology at the University of Chicago, she moved to the UK to get her PhD in developmental biology and genetics at the University of Cambridge. During her PhD she transitioned from wet-lab to dry-lab research. She is broadly interested in understanding principles of gene regulation and its evolution, which she approaches through integrating multiple types of genomic datasets.

Welte, Thomas_4573Thomas Welte

Thomas studied Medicine at the University of Freiburg. He received his MD in membrane protein biochemistry. Having worked as a clinician specializing in nephrology for three years, he is now a postdoctoral scientist in the Grosshans Lab. Thomas is interested in Trim71 mediated gene regulation in embryonic stem cells. Thomas uses methods like Ribosome Profiling and CRAC to identify new Trim71 target genes.

PhD Students

Graf, Maike_6152Maike Graf

Azzi, Chiara_3223Chiara Azzi

Chiara completed her MSc in Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology at University of Bologna, Italy. She was a visiting scientist at EMBL-Monterotondo (Italy) and took part of the International Summer School at Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz (Germany). She is now a PhD student in the Grosshans Lab and she is interested in the molecular mechanisms that control the development of C. elegans and specifically the role of components of the late heterochronic timer.

Giovanna_Brancati_0466Giovanna Brancati

Giovanna is a PhD candidate passionate about RNA biology. She started her scientific career as a visiting scientist at Rice University (Houston, USA) and then at EMBL-Grenoble (France) and finally obtained her M.Sc. in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Bologna (Italy). Using a mix of microscopy, genetics and RNA-seq approaches, she tries to understand how a miRNA finds its targets among a thousand of transcripts. Her research is partially funded by a Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds PhD Fellowship.

Kracmarova, Jana_5256Jana Kracmarova

Jana obtained her Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics of Eukaryotes at the Charles University in Prague. In her diploma project in the group of Michal Kubelka, IAPG AS CR, she focused on the mechanisms that regulate cytoplasmic polyadenylation in mammalian oocytes. She further broadened her knowledge of RNA biology during her internship in the group of Sonia Lopez de Quinto at the School of Biosciences, Cardiff, UK. Jana joined the Grosshans Lab as a PhD student in October 2017. Besides doing science, she likes to eat, iron and optimize.

Meeuse, Milou_2389Milou Meeuse

Milou studied Life Science and Technology at the University of Leiden and the Technical University of Delft. She received her master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Maastricht. She is now a PhD student in the Grosshans Lab, funded by a Boehringer Ingelheim PhD Fellowship. Milou is interested in the transcriptional mechanisms driving mRNA level oscillations during C. elegans development.

Hauser, Yannick_0018Yannick Hauser

Yannick is a local PhD student, who finished his Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology at the Biozentrum (Basel). He then joined the Grosshans group to pursue his Master’s thesis. During that time he got fascinated with nematode development and thus decided to stay for a PhD in our group. Using single animal technologies and genetic manipulation he is studying oscillatory gene expression as well as its role for the development of C. elegans.


Neagu, Anca_3764Anca Neagu

Anca holds a BSc in Chemistry-Biology from the West University of Timisoara (Romania) and a MSc in Molecular Biology from the University of Basel (Switzerland). As an independent and meticulous team member, Anca supports scientific experiments and is responsible for maintaining the lab stocks and resources.

Kunzer, Kathrin_0843Kathrin Kunzer

Kathrin Kunzer is from Germany and joined the Grosshans lab in 2015 as a lab technician. She finished her apprenticeship as a laboratory technician in biology at F.Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel. Kathrin supports PhD students and Postdocs in the lab and is responsible for the lab organization.

Xu, Lan 5749Lan Xu

Lan studied TCM in College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. She received her MD and did her postdoctoral research, studying electrical properties of cardiac muscle modified by various pharmacological agents at the level of individual cells, in the USA. She joined FMI in 1996 as a research associate, focusing initially on mouse models of motoneuron disease. In 2014, she joined the FMI C. elegans Facility and since 2016, Lan shares appointments between the Facility and the Grosshans Lab. She works alongside PhD students and postdocs to carry out experiments for their projects and she trains people to do microinjection for C. elegans transgenesis.