In 2009, Volker graduated from the University of Cologne with the B.Sc. in Biology. Since October 2009, he has been enrolled in the M.Sc. in Biological Sciences and the Fast Track Masters / Doctoral program at the University of Cologne.

During the rotation period, he worked on the following projects:

  • Lab of Dr. Nikoletta Papadopoulou, Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, University Hospital of Cologne: “miRNA expression upon infection of macrophages with Listeria monocytogenes”
  • Lab of Prof. Dr. Thomas Langer, Insitute for Genetics, University of Cologne: “Localization of the S1 processing site of the mitochondrial fusion protein Opa1”
  • Lab of Prof. Dr. Russ Hille, Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Riverside, California, USA“Functional characterization of the active site of Arabidopsis nitrate reductase” 

Since October 2010, he's been a member of the IGS DHD and been working on his PhD project in the Lab of PD Dr. Niels Gehring.

Project Title: “Molecular Function and Interactions of UPF1 in nonsense mediated mRNA decay”

The presence of premature translation termination codons (PTC) in mRNAs generally leads to the abortion of protein synthesis before the complete open reading frame has been translated and therefore results in the synthesis of truncated, non-functional or even harmful proteins. Eukaryotes employ an evolutionary highly conserved post-transcriptional surveillance mechanism termed nonsense mediated mRNA decay (NMD) to identify and degrade these faulty mRNAs. The central player of this process is the protein UPF1, which is not only involved in the termination of translation, but also ensures the recruitment of factors required for degradation of the mRNA. In addition, recent evidence shows that UPF1 plays a role in cell cycle progression as well as in genomic and telomeric maintenance. However, the connection between these cellular and nuclear functions of UPF1 is not understood so far. In this study, the interdependency of the different roles of UPF1 and their biological relevance will be investigated.