Since April 2017 Professor Jijie Chai from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, is Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the University of Cologne. The research group Chai is currently based at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne. With Jijie Chai’s research the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research want to draw their research in medicine, biochemistry and botany closer together.
No proteins, no life – and no defence against pathogens either. Whether the subject is human, mouse or corn, when it comes to immune defence, proteins are an important element, and they are very similar right across the boundaries of animal and plant cells. If you know all about these proteins, you hold the key to the targeted manipulation of immune defence. Jijie Chai is a leading researcher who investigates the structure of such proteins and special receptors. By describing the complex structures of the proteins he produces important basic knowledge for the fight against plant disease and the development of drugs to combat inflammatory disease. In his research, Chai uses a sophisticated new microscopic method: cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). The advent of this method has made it possible to see and analyse the structure and receptors of such proteins for the first time. So far, it is only employed at very few research locations. With Jijie Chai’s research, and technologies like cryo-EM, the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research want to draw their research in medicine, biochemistry and botany closer together.(Text: AvH foundation)