Dr. Gesa Volkers graduated from the E. M. A. University of Greifswald, Germany, in October 2011, where she studied the molecular mechanisms of a novel bacterial tetracycline resistance enzyme by x-ray crystallography. The MSFHR Trainee Award will allow her to conduct further research as a post-doctoral fellow in the field of neuronal diseases and development to study the molecular mechanisms of a particular human glycosyltransferase. Furthermore, this award highlights the important work being done in the laboratory of her distinguished supervisor, Dr. Natalie Strynadka.
Volkers’ project objective is to understand the structure and mechanism of polysialyltransferases in complex with their respective acceptor proteins NCAM and SynCAM. Polysialic acid is a negatively charged polymer on the surface of certain human brain cells. As a glycosylation modification, it is attached to NCAM or SynCAM and fulfills important functions such as post-natal axonal development of the brain. Altogether, this award will enable Volkers to progress as an independent researcher in an inspiring scientific setting.