• News

    A dream came true, we published our first paper!


    I could not be more proud to share the story one of my first PhD students in the lab. Shout out to Tabitha, and all the co-authors who made this dream become reality!

    Left: mitochondrial association of the Pink1 mRNA prevents mitophagy induction, the PINK1 protein is inactivated by cleavage. Right: only if the mRNA is dissociated, mitophagy of damaged mitochondria can proceed due to stabilization of the PINK1 protein. Artwork by Julia Kuhl.

    Tabitha identified a molecular switch that allows neurons to turn mitophagy on and off, by tethering the Pink1 mRNA to mitochondria. This protects mitochondria in neurons from being used as a simple nutrient source, because we all know they are much more important than that!

    Molecularly, the Pink1 mRNA tethering complex is phosphorylated by AMPK to keep the amount of PINK1-mediated mitophagy low. Only upon untethering, e.g. upon inactivation of AMPK by insulin signaling, can mitophagy process and the neuron take care of damaged mitochondria.

    This goes awry in neurons that have lost their ability to respond to insulin, e.g. upon treatment with the This goes awry in neurons that have lost their ability to respond to insulin, e.g. upon treatment with the Alzheimers disease (AD) risk factor ApoE4. This connects two phenomena commonly seen in AD, damaged mitochondria and insulin resistance

  • News

    Annual lab hike 2023

    This time we went to Starnberg for our annual hiking day, and, unlike the year before, the weather was amazing! After a short hike from Starnberg to the Votivchapel in Berg, we enjoyed lunch in the Strandhotel Berg and took the boat back to Starnberg. We had enough time to spare before heading back to Munich for our Monday MitoClub, so we either enjoyed ice cream at the Starnberger Eiswerkstatt or took a dip into the lake.

  • News

    Summer Party

    Organizing a party is a lot of effort…and we gave it all for our institute summer party. it was the turn for us research groups to pull this together and in a great collaborative effort made it possible, including meatless BBQ, a plan(c)k challenge, games and a bouncy castle! I could not have done this without the great support of my group – you are heroes!

    The bouncy castle needed to be tested…so glad I found volunteers!
  • News

    Summer time fun

    As the weather is nice and there are festivals in town, we decided to swap the lab for the summer Tollwood festival at the Olympiapark in Munich. Beach feeling, cocktails and nice company, what is there to enjoy more!

  • News

    Our lab is growing

    Thanks to the amazing support by third party funding (DFG, ERC), the lab welcomes three new members! Marlena, originally from northern Germany, stayed on as a PhD student after her master thesis with us (January 2023), Ben joined us as our second PostDoc from China (may 2023), and Luciano came all the way from Chile to start his PhD with us (July 2023). Welcome you all!

  • News

    NeuroFrance in Lyon

    So honored to be invited by Julien Courchet and Tommy Lewis to be a speaker at their Minisymposium on “Mechanisms for local regulation of axonal RNA and organelle biology” during NeuroFrance 2023 in Lyon. I enjoyed the talks, the city and the french cuisine! Merci, Julien!

  • News

    TRR 353 on Cell Death Decisions

    “Was lange wärt, wird endlich gut.”

    German saying

    Back in 2019, we became part of a consortium to investigate the mechanisms of cell death decisions, that determine whether a cell will undergo programmed cell death, or not, and if it does, by which pathway. After a few iterations and a splendidly organized reviewing session at the beautiful lake Konstanz, our consortium got funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungs Gemeinschaft, German research council). Many thanks to Simone, who joined me here and did splendid work defending our project at her poster!

    Simone at her Poster
    Taking the ferry across Lake Konstanz
  • News

    Lab retreat 2023

    All decked out in miner’s overalls at the salt mines Berchtesgaden.

    The first Harbauer lab retreat took us to the TUM Research Station in the Alps just beyond Berchtesgaden, and we invited the Perocchi lab to join us for some good talks on mitochondria, Calcium and more. Even though the weather was rainy, we enjoyed the stay and a few brave ones even walked all the way back after our visit to the salt mine to the lodge. The shorter way up to the Zinkenstüberl and the alpine coaster “Keltenblitz” was easier to do, even though it meant hiking from Germany to Austria.

  • News

    May, the forth be with you

    I was really impressed with the creativity of my students when it was time for us research groups and the Denk department to organize the happy hour for the Institute. Since the date was May fifth, and there for very close to StarWars Day (May, the forth), they took this as our theme and ran with it. Including amazing costumes, light sabers and a great photoshop job. I only contributed the cup cakes.

  • News

    GRC Mitochondria in Health and Disease

    Somewhere in Italy

    Who would have thought that there could be snow in Italy in February? Simone and I went on a roadtrip to the GRC Mitochondria Health and Disease together with our colleagues from the Misgeld lab, as sharing a car was cheaper than four flights to Pisa and a rental car from there. But on our way back we took the “scenic route” and our trusty car had to go up many serpentine roads through enchanted snowy forests and tiny villages. Kudos to Thomas for driving!