Sascha Sauer is new head of MDC’s Genomics technology platform

Dr. Sascha Sauer has been at the helm of the scientific Genomics platform at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) since August 2016. Among other initiatives, Sauer plans to further develop methods for single-cell analysis and make them available for collaborative projects, as well as overseeing various independent research projects, including in the field of nutrigenomics.


Dr. Sascha Sauer, Photo: private.

Berlin is familiar territory for Sauer, who is originally from Osnabrück, as he studied biochemistry at Freie Universität Berlin and, after obtaining his doctorate at the Centre National de Génotypage in Paris in 2001, worked at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin for several years. During his time there, Sauer established the research group “Nutrigenomics and Gene Regulation” in 2008 and, together with his team, discovered a gene regulatory substance in licorice root effective against diabetes mellitus type 2, as well as basic mechanisms of the effects of the “magical” natural substance resveratrol. Sauer most recently worked at the University of Würzburg, where he headed the Core Unit Systems Medicine.

Building on the work of his predecessor Wei Chen, who left the MDC in July 2016, Sauer will establish a broad portfolio of next-generation sequencing methods at the institute that will enable MDC scientists to efficiently reach a very large reading range. Over the coming years, particular emphasis will also be placed on further developing single-cell analysis in genomics, including single-cell RNA sequencing. “We will also be pursuing various collaborative and independent research projects investigating the basic mechanisms of cell responses to external, e.g. metabolic, stress, and focusing on tumor analysis,” explains Sauer. As well as heading the MDC Genomics platform, Sascha Sauer is also responsible for the corresponding platform at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). He is keen for each service unit to develop a distinct profile with complementary applications.

Before coming to the MDC, Sascha Sauer was coordinator of the European Sequencing and Genotyping Infrastructure (ESGI) consortium. He wants to take this pilot project to the next stage at the MDC and pool the existing sequencing and bioinformatics capacities in Europe to make this knowledge available for potential use in transnational projects. There are also plans to develop new methods of genome research while harmonizing and standardizing existing approaches. Finally, Sascha Sauer will continue to cooperate with companies in industry, primarily in the form of externally funded translational projects, to further develop findings from basic research into clinical application.

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