Alexander von Humboldt Professorship 2022

Catherina G. Becker

To regenerate human nerve tissue is the dream of every medical researcher working on therapies for diseases like Parkinson’s or spinal injuries. The neurobiologist, Catherina Becker, could help to make this dream a reality. She explores mechanisms that give rise to new nerve cells and help heal damaged tissue.

  • Nominating University: Technische Universität Dresden
Porträt von Catherina Becker
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Using zebrafish, Catherina Becker has shown that the same mechanisms that are involved in developing the spinal cord are also at work in regenerating it. Her research has also led to a better understanding of the role played by serotonin and dopamine as neuromodulators as well as how inflammations impact tissue healing. Based on this, she is delivering important knowledge on potential clinical applications, such as the repair of injuries to the spinal cord and neurodegenerative diseases that involve inflammation.

Catherina Becker is a pioneer of spinal regeneration research using the zebrafish model. By demonstrating the evolutionarily conserved role of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine she has established a new approach to boosting regeneration. She now wants to expand her research to consider how not only nerve cells, but also other types of cells are involved in regenerating the spinal cord.

In recruiting Catherina Becker, TU Dresden expands its position as one of the top locations for clinical implementation of research findings in the field of nerve regeneration. Her presence will serve to extend its methodological and technological breadth whilst, at the same time, building a bridge to clinical applications. The concept “Health Science, Biomedicine and Bioengineering”, which was already successful in the Excellence Initiative, as well as the life sciences location that has flourished in recent years, are going to be strengthened with Catherina Becker starting as new research group leader at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) at the TU Dresden.

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Catherina Becker at TU Dresden

Brief bio

Born in Germany, Professor Dr Catherina G. Becker, was a professor at the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, until 2021. After completing her doctorate at the University of Bremen, she was a postdoc at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, holding a long-term EMBO Fellowship before moving to the University of California in Irvine, United States. In 1998, she relocated to the Centre for Molecular Neurobiology in Hamburg, after which she took up a post as a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in 2005. The honours she has received include being appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2014 as well as the Suffrage Science Award of the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and the Eurolife Distinguished Lecturer Medal, both of which she was awarded in 2016.

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