Nikolaus Rajewsky earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics at the University of Cologne, Germany (1997). After postdoctoral research at Rutgers University and Rockefeller University, he was an Assistant Professor for Biology and Mathematics in the Department of Biology at NYU (2003-2006), co-associated with the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. He is now a full Professor at the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. He conceived and directs the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB).
Dr. Rajewsky uses both computational and experimental molecular biology methods to study gene regulation in animals. A focus of his work is on small non-coding RNAs such as microRNAs. His latest awards include the IUBMB medal and the Anniversary price of the German Biochemistry Society. The new BIMSB received 12 million Euros in funding. Dr. Rajewsky’s research has been published and featured in numerous journals, including Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Genetics and Nature Biotechnology.
He showed that microRNAs, a recently discovered novel class of genes, regulate the expression of thousands of animal genes. He helped to elucidate microRNA function in pancreatic beta cells (insulin secretion), liver (cholesterol levels) and B cells (maturation). His demonstrated that microRNAs leave cell type specific mRNA expression signatures and that human genotyped polymorphism data can be used to explicitly quantify the contribution of microRNA targets to human fitness. He also developed methods to identify microRNAs from next generation sequencing methods. His latest paper (Nature2008) used novel quantitative high-throughput mass-spectometry to show that a human microRNA directly regulates protein synthesis of hundreds of genes.