Frauke Gräter Appointed Director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

25. June 2024

After fifteen years at the Institute, HITS group leader Frauke Gräter will be new Director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. The chemist, who has received various awards for her research, will stay at HITS with her group “Molecular Biomechanics” until the end of this year.

Frauke Gräter (Photo: HITS)

Frauke Gräter, long-standing head of the “Molecular Biomechanics” group, becomes new director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz where she will contribute her expertise and experience in mechanobiology to the area of “soft matter”. After a six months’ transition phase, Frauke Gräter will leave at the end of the year.

“We see the appointment as confirmation of Frauke’s outstanding achievements, but also as a success for us as a research institute,” says HITS Scientific Director Tilmann Gneiting. “We are delighted that the concept of our founder Klaus Tschira has once again paid off: bringing brilliant young researchers to the institute, giving them the greatest possible freedom to conduct their research, but also giving them responsibility and thus enabling them to pursue a scientific career up to top positions.”

In 2009 Frauke Gräter came to HITS (then EML Research) at the age of 32 to do research in molecular biomechanics. Since 2014, she has also been professor for molecular biomechanics at Heidelberg University. As HITS Scientific Director in 2021/2022, she pushed the interdisciplinary collaboration between the HITS research groups, by contributing to the HITS Lab that has since then developed several interdisciplinary projects. Moreover, she is co-founder of the SIMPLAIX initiative on bridging scales from molecules to molecular materials by multiscale simulation and machine learning, a fruitful collaboration of HITS, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). As a researcher, she has received many awards, e.g the PRACE Lovelace Award, an ERC Consolidator Grant, and recently an HFSP Research Award.

Until the end of the year, Frauke Gräter will work with her group at HITS and prepare for her new position at the MPI-P in parallel. In January 2025, she will move permanently to Mainz. She will continue to be professor at Heidelberg University.

Mechanobiology: Proteins under physical force

The major interest of Frauke Gräter and her Molecular Biomechanics group is to decipher how proteins are designed to specifically respond to mechanical forces in the cellular environment or as a biomaterial. For this purpose, they use high performance computing (HPC) and simulation techniques on different scales. In her research, Frauke Gräter has covered medicine topics like blood clotting as well as materials science on spider silk or collagen

For more information see the press release of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research:

Press contact:
Dr. Peter Saueressig
Head of Communications
Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS)

About HITS

HITS, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, was established in 2010 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural, mathematical, and computer sciences. Major research directions include complex simulations across scales, making sense of data, and enabling science via computational research. Application areas range from molecular biology to astrophysics. An essential characteristic of the Institute is interdisciplinarity, implemented in numerous cross-group and cross-disciplinary projects. The base funding of HITS is provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.

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