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Support for Cutting-Edge Research in Biology and Medicine: Alf Honigmann Receives 1.25 Million Dollars as New Allen Distinguished Investigator

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, today announced eight awards of $1.25 million each to fund research projects led by 16 chosen researchers. Among the new Allen Distinguished Investigators is Alf Honigmann, chair of biophysics and research group leader at the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of TU Dresden.

Three people sitting together and smiling
Meritxell Huch, Alf Honigmann, and André Nadler © MPI-CBG, Katrin Boes

Prof. Alf Honigmann and his colleagues Meritxell Huch, director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden and André Nadler, senior research group leader at MPI-CBG, will receive the funding for their joint project “Visualizing lipid nutrient turnover in human tissue models”. Together, the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group awarded a total of approximately $10 million to support cutting-edge, early-stage research projects that promise to advance the fields of biology and medicine.

With their collaborative project, Nadler, Huch, and Honigmann are aiming to apply a technology they developed to visualize fats in cells using a fluorescence microscopy. Our bodies are built on fats and their molecular cousins, collectively known as lipids. These slippery molecules construct our cell walls and store 90% of our energy. Dysregulation of lipids is associated with diseases like diabetes and fatty liver disease. Lipids cannot easily be visualized in cells, which complicates analyses of their biological functions. The researchers address this issue head-on in their project and will use their technology to study the turnover and transport of lipids in laboratory models of the intestine and the liver, two organs essential for metabolism.

The eight awarded projects were selected from open calls for proposals in two fields: protein lifespan and nutrient sensing. To choose research areas that they recommend for funding, the Frontiers Group looks for emerging fields where an investment could be catalytic to advance scientific progress — not just for awardees, but for all in that particular field.

About The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, is dedicated to exploring the landscape of bioscience to identify and foster ideas that will change the world. The Frontiers Group recommends funding through award mechanisms to accelerate our understanding of biology, including: Allen Discovery Centers at partner institutions for leadership-driven, compass-guided research; and Allen Distinguished Investigators for frontier explorations with exceptional creativity and potential impact. The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group was founded in 2016 by the late philanthropist and visionary Paul G. Allen. For more information, visit

Source: TU Dresden