Professional training for postdocs

In the interdisciplinary field of aging research, CECAD Postdocs have a multitude of diverse tasks to perform. By providing excellent and up-to-date conditions for research as well as supporting their scientific independence, CECAD actively supports its postdoctoral researchers in all aspects of their daily work.

The international working environment at CECAD offers the early-stage scientists a chance to establish a wide-reaching network of scientific contacts and intensively promotes collaborative links between clinical and basic research.

To promote scientific independence, selected CECAD postdoctoral researchers are awarded a two-year research grant worth EUR 10,000/year. The grant covers material costs and additional financing is provided for a technical assistant. This support has already provided many of its postdoc recipients with a springboard to leading their own teams in renowned research institutes. Medical postdoctoral researchers can receive a specific grant to get exempted from their clinical duties to create space for their CECAD research.

Rotation positions offer young postdoctoral clinicians the chance to focus intensively on research projects for six months and thereby further support CECAD’s declared goal of bringing the fruits of research from ‘bench to bedside’.

Postdoc Grants Awarded

Seda Koyuncu (Vilchez Lab) and Weiyi Chen (Brüning Lab) receive seed funding to implement independent scientific projects

The CECAD Postdoc Grant offers funding to postdocs with the goal of pursuing an academic career which can provide the basis for scientific independence as a group leader. Koyuncu and Chen get a bench fee of 10.000 EUR per year and the salary for a technical assistant for the duration of 2 years.

Seda Konyuncu

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(2012:) BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Middle East Technical University, Çankaya Ankara, Turkey

(2014:) MSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey

Ankara, Lab

(2019:) PhD – University of Cologne

Labs: Frank Madeo, Tülin Yanik, Ebru Erbay, David Vilchez

Seda Koyuncu is a postdoctoral researcher in the Vilchez Lab where she continued her research after receiving her doctoral degree in February 2019.

During her PhD, she focused on the mechanisms suppressing proteostasis collapse in pluripotent stem cells and its demise in Huntington’s disease. In parallel, she also worked on elucidating the role of E3 ligases in the stem cell identity and in the aging process using both embryonic stem cells and C. elegans as models. Currently, she is working on a system-wide characterization of ubiquitination changes in the whole proteome during the aging process using C.elegans as model organism. Specifically, she is aiming to investigate the impact of remodeling in ubiquitination events with age on organismal aging and longevity.

This year, Koyuncu published in Nature that selective proteasomal degradation of some structural and functional proteins such as EPS-8 and IFB-2 are essential regulator for longevity. She will further characterize the role of these proteins in aging and age-related phenotype. Furthermore, Koyuncu is planning to investigate the role of this remodeling in ubiquitination during aging in age-associated diseases such as Huntington’s disease. This project will mediate the determination of differential regulation of ubiquitination during aging which can provide understanding the underlying molecular and cellular mechanism of aging and age-related disease.

"My passion and commitment are towards a career in academic scientific research. The CECAD Postdoc grant will provide the basis for future grant applications. Moreover, I believe that by providing time and resources to develop my ideas and experiments independently, this grant may be helpful to establish my own independent research group in future."

Weiyi Chen

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(2012) BSc with Honors in Biomedical Science, Monash University, Australia

(2017) PhD - Monash University, Australia

Labs: Michael Cowley, Jens Brüning

Weiyi Chen is a postdoctoral researcher in the Brüning Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research. Bevor, he obtained his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Pablo Enriori and Professor Michael Cowley at Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Australia.

His PhD research project was centered around the crosstalk between the brain and metabolically active organs such as the skeletal muscles and liver in terms of glucose metabolism and how these interactions can be perturbed in obesity. Specifically, he described the role for alpha‐melanocyte stimulating hormone in glucose regulation through melanocortin-5 receptor expressed in skeletal muscle.  In a separate collaborative work with Dr. Eglantine Balland, Weiyi and colleagues showed that the reduction insulin action in the hypothalamus contributes to unconstrained glucose production by the liver in obese mice. At the Brüning lab he is working on uncovering the influence of circadian rhythm on the Brain to liver axis to regulate metabolism during energy deprivation.

“It is the accumulation of small successes and learning from rejections throughout my career as a scientist, which led me to explore academia as a possible route. The constant curiosity about my research kept me moving forward, exploring and experimenting different options. Getting this postdoc grant has provided me with a unique opportunity to pursue ideas of my own within a set budget. This grant is undoubtedly an important step in the right direction that is to lead an independent research group in the future. This grant allows me to lead a small team, experience what an independent research group entail and develop the characteristics of my future research group.”