Karsten Rippe

Research interests

My group applies an interdisciplinary approach that combines biophysics, molecular/cell biology and medicine to quantitatively investigate and model the relation between the DNA organization in the nucleus into chromatin and the regulation of gene expression. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments are conducted using scanning/atomic force microscopy imaging, analytical ultracentrifugation and fluorescence spec­tros­copy/microscopy approaches to elucidate how chromatin assembly, conformation, dynamics and accessibility are controlled. Furthermore, various contributions to the modeling and quantitative analysis of the kinetics of chromatin assembly and the chromatin fiber organization have been made.

Scientific background

  • Head of the Division Chromatin Networks at the DKFZ and the Bioquant Center in Heidelberg and professor (W3) at the University of Heidelberg
  • Head of the Research Group Genome Organization & Function at the DKFZ and the Bioquant
  • Group leader of the Molecular Biophysics Group (Junior Research Group of the Volkswagenstiftung) at the Kirchhoff-Institut für Physik at the University of Heidelberg
  • Habilitation (approval as university lecturer) at the faculty of Biological Sciences, Section Biochemistry/Biophysics at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg on the subject of transcriptional regulation by enhancer sequences.
  • Scientist at the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) at the Divisions Biophysics of Macromolecules (Prof. Jörg Langowski) and Molecular Genetics (Prof. Peter Lichter).
  • Postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Peter von Hippel at the University of Oregon, Eugene, USA; work on protein-DNA interactions and regulation of transcription in eukaryotes and prokaryotes.
  • Diploma and PhD work on DNA duplex conformations with parallel strand orientation with Dr. Thomas Jovin at the Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, Göttingen.

Academic distinctions

  • Speaker of the steering committee of the BMBF e:Med program on systems medicine (
  • CSB2 prize in Systems Biology awarded by the Council for Systems Biology in Boston together with Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Cambrige, MA, USA (8/7/15)
  • ‏Member of Heidelberg Excellence Cluster CellNetworks and HBIGS International Graduate School
  • Selected by the Volkswagen Foundation in the program “Junior Research Groups at German Universities” (2001-2007)
  • European Beckman DNA Award for the paper “Association States of the Activator Protein NtrC Determined by Analytical Ultracentrifugation”, Lisbon, Portugal, 5/11/98
  • Post-doctoral fellowship of the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, Stiftung für medizinische Grundlagenforschung, 10/92 to 10/93
  • Otto Hahn medal awarded by the Max Planck Society for the work on parallel-stranded DNA with double helical structure, Dresden, 6/3/92


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