Franziska Bleichert

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Jul 5, 2018
Video: Franziska Bleichert and her group
Sep 6, 2017
Three FMI group leaders awarded prestigious European Research Council Grant
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Franziska Bleichert

Molecular mechanisms of DNA replication and chromosome maintenance

Cellular life depends on the faithful propagation of genetic information. Prior to cell division, a host of different proteins work in concert to duplicate genomes by semi-conservative replication in a manner that preserves relative gene copy numbers and allows for the segregation of copied chromosomes into daughter cells.

To sustain genome integrity, DNA replication must be highly efficient and accurate, with approximately two light years-worth of DNA synthesized during the lifespan of a human being and an error rate of less than 1 per 100 million incorporated bases. This robustness is remarkable considering that the DNA substrate for the replication machinery is packaged into chromatin within the crowded nuclear environment of eukaryotic cells, and it necessitates that DNA replication is temporally and spatially tightly coupled to chromatin remodeling events. How chromatin environment controls key DNA replication events, however, remains poorly understood.

Our research program is focused on uncovering molecular mechanisms by which the nuclear chromatin landscape impacts different steps of DNA replication. We use an integrated mix of biochemical, biophysical, and structural methods (single-particle cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography) to identify and visualize key chromatin-associated replication intermediates at atomic or near-atomic resolution. In combination with in vivo genetic approaches, our efforts will help not only to establish molecular models for how the likely complex interplay between chromatin structure and DNA replication contributes to maintaining chromosome copy number and genome stability, but also to generate mechanistic frameworks for how deregulation of these events contributes to human disease.

Franziska Bleichert


Group leader

PhD students

Postdoctoral fellows

Technical/Research associates


PhD students

Maxim Kolesnikov (2018-2019)

Technical/Research associates

Stéphane Lefevre (2017)


Federica Galliano (2018)
Asim Akbani (2017-2018)
Steve Runser (2017)


MPhil, Department of Genetics, Yale University, USA
2003 - 2010
PhD, Department of Genetics, Yale University, USA
1996 - 2003
MD (equivalent), University of Leipzig School of Medicine, Germany

Positions held

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA
2010 - 2013
Miller Research Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, USA
2003 - 2010
Graduate Student, Department of Genetics, Yale University, USA


European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant
2010 - 2013
Miller Research Fellowship
Stanford Biochemistry Founders' Award for Doctoral Excellence
2005 - 2007
Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds Ph.D. Fellowship
DAAD short-term research scholarship
2000 - 2001
Graduiertenkolleg Research Scholarship