Das sind wir

Fachgebiet Biochemie im Fachbereich Chemie an der Technischen Universität Darmstadt

Willkommen in der Arbeitsgruppe Dencher im Fachgebiet Biochemie.

In der Abteilung Physikalische Biochemie werden die Struktur, Dynamik und Funktion von Membranproteinen und biologischen Membranen untersucht. Dabei kommen biophysikalische, biochemische sowie zellbiologische Methoden zum Einsatz. Ein Schwerpunkt ist die Analyse der Veränderungen des Proteom und Lipidom beim Altern und bei altersabhängigen Krankheiten.

Wir befassen uns mit den Themen:

  • Bioenergetik
  • Mitochondrien und Chloroplasten
  • Alternsforschung
  • Alzheimer und Parkinson Demenz
  • Strukturanalyse
  • Strahlenbiologie

Aktuell bestehen Kooperationen mit dem Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin HZB Soft Matter HZB Biophysik auf dem Gebiet der Neutronenstreuung sowie der Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung GSI in DarmstadtGSI.

Weitere Informationen finden Sie unter der Rubrik Forschung

CV Prof. Dr. Norbert A. Dencher


Norbert A. Dencher is Full Professor in Physical Biochemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, at Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany. His research interests concentrate on ageing, age-related diseases including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In order to elucidate the mechanisms involved at the molecular and cellular level, his research team studies the structure-function-dynamics relationship of biological membranes, respiratory chain supercomplexes and proton-ATP synthases, and the changes related to energy conversion, signal transduction, ageing and age-associated neurodegenerative dysfunctions.

He is author of about 215 publications, cited more than 6800 times, with a current h-index of 47 (04.06.2014). Highlights of his research were published in three Nature articles.

He also supervises the research Program “Neutron Scattering of Biological Systems” at the Helmholtz-Centre Berlin that he has established 1990.

In the framework of the European Commission Integrated Project “MiMage: Role of Mitochondria in Conserved Mechanisms of Ageing”, the involvement of mitochondria in ageing, both bioenergetic and proteomic aspects, was studied. As workpackage leader for “Impact of modifying ROS levels on ageing of ageing models”, he coordinated the research of 13 participating European research groups in 9 countries on this topic. Investigations in the cooperative projects “Mitochondrial networks of pathways in ageing and lifespan control – a systems biology approach” and “Role of reactive species and of endogenous anti-oxidative capacity for the induction of genetic instability in the progeny of irradiated normal human cells“ were conducted in the research framework “Systems biology in healthy ageing“ and “Induction and Transmission of Genetic Damage upon High-LET Irradiation: In vivo and in vitro Studies”, respectively, of the German Governmental Ministry of Research and Technology, BMBF. Currently, in the framework of the DFG-Graduiertenkolleg (PhD-program school) „Molecular and cellular reaction on ionizing radiation“, the Dencher institute investigates “Impact of radiation on the proteome, lipidome and the activity of cells and mitochondria: Modulation by O2, CO2 and the oxidative status” and co-supervises 32 national as well as international PhD students.

Research Achievements

NAD is known for fundamental discoveries and contributions in the field of bacteriorhodopsin, the prototype of an integral membrane protein, especially of the family of seven membrane-spanning α-helical proteins, such as GPCRs. The first time for a membrane protein, he and his team could demonstrate by the application of time-resolved X-ray and neutron scattering pump-probe techniques that changes in the picosecond dynamics and micro/millisecond conformational changes of the tertiary structure drive the function of the light-driven vectorial proton pump bacteriorhodopsin. The importance of water molecules for the function, structure, and dynamics of membranes could be established in this way too. These approaches are currently applied to unravel the molecular mechanisms of ageing as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and the involvement of biological membranes. In addition, NAD discovered two photosignalling rhodopsins in halobacteria, performed the initial analysis of the photo- and pumping cycle of bacteriorhodopsin. Furthermore, he published the first 2D as well as 3D structures of mitochondrial respiratory supercomplexes by electron microscopy and the structure of the proton-turbine of the ATP-synthase by AFM. NAD and his co-workers suggested and experimentally supported a new disease-triggering mechanism of the Aß-peptide for Alzheimer’s disease.

Main Current Positions

Managing Director, Institute Biochemistry, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Department of Chemistry, Physical Biochemistry, Germany

Supervisor of the research Program “Neutron Scattering of Biological Systems” at the Helmholtz-Centre Berlin

Principal tutor and supervisor of the DFG-Graduiertenkolleg (PhD-program school) „Molecular and cellular reaction on ionizing radiation“.

Educational Activities

Co-establishment of two PhD-program schools.

More than 50 of his own PhD students received their PhD degree.