New foundation at the MDC to support young international scientists

As of 22 February 2016, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) has been home to the newly created Stiftung Gisela Krebs (SGK), a foundation that aims to assist outstanding young international scientists with their research on muscle stem cells. The foundation’s benefactor, Gisela Krebs, is the sister of Nobel laureate Hans A. Krebs, who carried out pioneering research into cellular metabolism.

Science and medicine have a long tradition in the Krebs family. Hans Adolf Krebs came from a family of doctors. He discovered the citric acid cycle and explained cellular respiration, work which was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in 1953. His son, Lord John Richard Krebs, is now a zoologist and behavioral scientist at the University of Oxford; his granddaughter Sally Lowell is a research group leader at the University of Edinburgh and investigates the differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

Gisela Krebs, the sister of Hans A. Krebs, has now set up a foundation to support young international researchers working in the field of muscle stem cells at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ERCR) – a joint institution of the Max Delbrück Center and the Charité. The benefactor sold part of her family inheritance to raise the foundation’s €600,000 share capital. The MDC is the trustee of the foundation – “a responsibility that we take very seriously,” stresses Heike Wolke, Administrative Director of the research center.

Gisela Krebs and Helena Escobar

Gisela Krebs and Helena Escobar at the inauguration of the foundation, 22.02. 2016.
Image: Simone Spuler

The first researcher to benefit from this new funding source is post-doc Helena Escobar Fernandez, a graduate summa cum laude of the GK1631 MyoGrad program – a Research Training Group based in Paris and Berlin that is funded by the German Research Foundation.

Escobar is conducting research into stem-cell-based gene therapies to treat dysferlinopathy, a hereditary and incurable muscular dystrophy disorder that particularly affects the shoulders and hips. In trials with mice, the young scientist managed to restore diseased muscle cells in cell cultures and successfully transplant them into animals. The results of this research are paving the way for the development of further treatments using muscle stem cells in the future.

Escobar’s work is an example of the translational research that is carried out by the MDC and ECRC and combines medical practice and basic research. This approach to science, one that seeks to benefit society, is shared by the founder’s family.

By creating the SGK, Gisela Krebs is continuing her family’s scientific legacy and, as she says, putting her inheritance “to good use.”

Further information on research into muscle stem cells

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