We are a young and small research group led by Karla Feijs and Roko Žaja. We are aiming to get a better understanding of ADP-ribosylation through different research approaches. Get in touch if you think you would like to join us!


Karla L.H. Feijs ORCID
As a master student in the lab of René Bernards at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, I studied regulation of the Notch signalling pathway by ubiquitination and became fascinated by the fact that protein modifications can drive complex (patho-)physiological processes. Subsequently, during my PhD studies under supervision of Bernhard Lüscher at the RWTH Aachen University, I studied a different post-translational modification named mono(ADP-ribosyl)ation and focused mostly on the ADP-ribosyltransferase PARP10. As an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow in Ivan Ahels laboratory at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford, I then studied the reversal of mono(ADP-ribosyl)action by MacroD1, MacroD2 and TARG1. Following a year and a half maternity break I returned to RWTH Aachen University to set up my own research group at the end of 2017 for only a few months. Following another maternity break, I started full-time work again early 2019.

Roko Žaja ORCID
Roko performed his undergraduate studies at the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek, Croatia, followed by a period of civil service and volunteering. His graduate studies he performed at the Rudjer Boskovič Institute in Zagreb with Tvrtko Smital, where he focused mostly on ABC-transporters. He then spent 3 years as a postdoc in Ivan Ahel’s group working on ADP-ribosylation in the DNA damage response. After a period of part-time work due to childcare obligations, he is now full-time senior scientist at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of RWTH Aachen University.

Lisa Weixler – PhD student
Already at the beginning of my bachelor’s studies I decided to specialise on biochemistry and biomedicine. At the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Larsson, and within my bachelor’s thesis period at the Center national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in France, I investigated the regulation mechanisms of the mitochondrial RNA polymerase POLRMT in vitro and in vivo. My master’s thesis project at Boehringer Ingelheim, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, addresses the structural, biochemical and biophysical investigation of the GTP cyclohydrolase I (GTPCH-I), to gain insights into potential drug candidates and the underlying disease mechanisms of GTPCH-I genetic defects. Currently I am investigating biochemical aspects of the posttranslational modification mono(ADP-ribosyl)ation as topic of my PhD project at the RWTH Aachen University Hospital.

Katja Schäringer – PhD student
While pursuing my Master’s degree in chemistry, mainly focusing on the synthesis of organic compounds, I discovered over time that the field of life sciences strongly aligns with my research interests. Hence, to broaden my scientific scope, I performed my Master’s thesis in Martin Zenke’s lab in the Institute for Biomedical Engineering in Aachen. Here I investigated the molecular machinery that enables and controls actin-based cell migration. This work especially sparked my interest in exploring the complexity of protein interplay and mechanisms that drive cellular functions. Thus, after completing my Master’s degree with honors, I set out for obtaining further skills and experience in the biochemical area. This led me to begin my PhD studies focusing on the functions and interactions of ADP-ribosyltransferases and -hydrolases. In my doctoral work, I examine the hydrolase TARG1, a small macrodomain protein which has gained scientific attention after the corresponding gene was shown to be mutated in patients with severe neurodegenerative disease. I aim to establish a more comprehensive characterization of TARG1’s specific purposes, based on its interaction partners and subcellular localization.

Gülcan Aydin – Technician
Gülcan works since January 2010 in the Uniklinik Aachen as technician. In her first job in the Department of Cell Biology (AG Prof Zenke) she gained experience in cell and molecular biology and was integrated in several scientific projects. In March 2018 she joined our lab at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Kaiseng Quach – Student assistant
Kai studies medicine at RWTH Aachen University and has supported our lab as student assistant – making buffers and other useful stuff. Currently on hiatus due to obligations in the clinic, but may be back soon!


Petra Toneva – BSc thesis 2020/2021

Jeffrey Momoh, MSc thesis 2020 (Staffordshire University)
current PhD student at the Department of Nanomedicine and Theranostics, RWTH Aachen

Thore Diefenbach, BSc thesis 2019 (RWTH Aachen)

Jessica Malcev, MSc thesis 2019 (Maastricht University)

Sandro Capellmann, MSc thesis 2018 (RWTH Aachen)
current PhD student at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Immunology

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