Maja Funk

Maja's scientific work in one sentence

How are cells, especially stem cells, affected during aging and what underlies their reduced functionality; likewise how do aged cells influence each other?

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Short CV

University Studies: Master of Science, 2012, University of Heidelberg
PhD: 2015, University of Freiburg, Germany
Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher, DKFZ Heidelberg

What is - in your opinion - your best publication?

Funk MC, Bera AN, Menchen T, Kuales G, Thriene K, Lienkamp SS, Dengjel J, Omran H, Frank M, Arnold SJ. ‘Cyclin O (Ccno) Functions During Deuterosome-Mediated Centriole Amplification of Multiciliated Cells’. EMBO J. 2015 Feb 23.

What are your most important prizes and memberships?

FEBS Youth Travel Fund (YTF) Grant to attend the ‘FEBS Advanced Workshop on Ageing & Regeneration’, Innsbruck, Austria, 2019
Outstanding Presentation Prize ‘Mouse Molecular Genetics’; Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge, UK, 2015
Boehringer Ingelheim Travel Grant to attend the Cold Spring Harbor Course ‘Mouse Development, Stem Cells & Cancer’, 2013

German Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology e.V. (GBM, FEBS)
Ring-a-Scientist (Initiative to bring researchers into classrooms)

5 questions about research - past, present, future

1. What are your primary tasks and responsibilities in your actual position?
Get the AMPro project running. Supervision of Master student(s) and drumming/keeping up their enthusiasm for (aging) research.

2. What is it that gives you pleasure and/or satisfaction the most?
If something after some investigational undertaking, finally works (in the lab but likewise in daily life).

3. Which research question(s) affects you at the moment? What is its social significance?
At the very moment I am filling out this form: all about COVID-19.
Related to my own research: what processes/mechanisms play together to make an aged organism more vulnerable and susceptible to diseases? Which of them are organ-specific processes and which occur on the organismal level? Social significance: at what adjusting screws can we act to reduce the frequency of age-related diseases, especially cancer, & is it possible at all?

4. Which publication influenced you the most?
I cannot point out a single one but I am always fascinated by very old papers that light up with very detailed drawings and descriptions of research objects or processes. For example Antony van Leeuwenhoek with his “letter on the protozoa” in 1677 or “Kunstformen der Natur” (Artforms in Nature) by Ernst Haeckel (1899-1904), which mirror the beauty of nature.

5. What do you like most about AMPro? What are your particular plans within the collaboration?
The connection to scientists with similar research interests and the possibility to discuss and exchange ideas. Especially during the summer school we had a very constructive and familiar atmosphere, which ensures you that you can always get in contact with each other for questions and possible collaborations.

5 questions beyond research

1. What are your experiences with reconciliation of family or private and working life?
Work-Life-Balance is one of the most important things to learn during the PhD – beside all the scientific knowledge. And that it is still after the PhD an ongoing process.

2. What is the experience during your PhD you will remember all your life?
The revisions of my paper very tough but I managed experiments which I thought before I could not do – the experience/take home message: go out of the comfort zone and do it. Moreover, I am still in close contact with some friends from Freiburg I met during my PhD, either in my lab or my Graduate School (Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine, SGBM).

3. Which book and/or movie has lately affected you the most?
“Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!”, Richard P. Feynman

4. What are your hobbies?
Running and reading. While running I can either think about my project (or other things in life) or just think about nothing and clear my mind. While reading, I can completely delve into the story and forget about everything else.

5. What is your favorite color, season and/or football (or other sports) club?
My favorite color is colorful. Bayern Munich (despite any preconceptions I have to face from others) and SC Freiburg - since my PhD time in Freiburg, the most beautiful city in Germany ;)