Dr Ilme Schlichting heads the Department of Biomolecular Mechanisms at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. After obtaining her PhD with Kenneth C. Holmes at Heidelberg University she moved to Brandeis University to postdoc with Gregory A. Petsko. Subsequently she became a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology before accepting her position as a director at the MPI in 2002. Schlichting’s research aims at understanding how proteins achieve their unique functional properties, especially heme & flavin containing proteins. Both cofactors allow for a plethora of different reactions, yet, most of the enzymes are highly specific catalysts. Thus, an important question is how does the protein fine-tune the reactivity of the cofactor & of the intermediates occurring during the reaction? Key insight is obtained from structures of reaction intermediates. Schlichting was the first to successfully combine photolysis of caged compounds & Laue crystallography to study GTP hydrolysis by the Ras protein, to observe ligand binding intermediates in myoglobin, & to resolve the reaction intermediates of a cytochrome P450 at high spatial resolution. Her latest interests include the application of Free Electron Laser radiation for structural biology.
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