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Stefan Knapp elected EMBO member

May 2018. The European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) announced that Stefan Knapp, Professor at Goethe University Frankfurt, has been elected to its membership for his contribution to the life sciences.

Not every person who has a “cancer gene” will inevitably develop this disease in their lifetime. Thanks to a new area of research called epigenetics, we now know that many genes are only read under certain circumstances. Stefan Knapp not only researches the underlying mechanisms, he also developed small molecules that inhibit the derailment of gene expression in cancer. Now he has been elected as one of 62 new members of EMBO, joining a group of more than 1800 of the best researchers in Europe and around the world.

"I am delighted that I have been elected to the EMBO society and I am looking forward to working with this group of outstanding scientists to advance research, exchange of new ideas and to promote science in society", says Stefan Knapp, who conducts his research at the University's Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Buchmann Institute of Molecular Life Sciences on Riedberg Campus.

He made seminal contributions to the elucidation of structural mechanisms of the regulation of proteins that play key roles in signal transduction.  This in turn led to a detailed description of protein family specific regulatory mechanisms and the elucidation of substrate recognition processes. Based on these findings, Stefan Knapp developed a large array of new small molecule inhibitors, in particular highly specific inhibitors for epigenetic reader domains.

The first potent inhibitor developed by Stefan Knapp and colleagues validated epigenetic reader domains as target for cancer therapy which led to a diverse set of highly selective inhibitors targeting these proteins. Stefan Knapp’s work has provided new insights into chromatin biology and paved the way for more than 25 clinical trials in this new area of drug discovery.

Stefan Knapp studied chemistry at the University of Marburg in Germany and at the University of Illinois in the USA. He did his PhD in protein crystallography at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1999, he joined the Pharmacia Corporation in Italy, where he worked for five years as a principal research scientist in structural biology and biophysics. In 2004, he set up a research group at the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at Oxford University in the UK. From 2008 to 2015 he was a Professor of Structural Biology at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine (NDM) at Oxford University and between 2012 and 2015 he was the Director for Chemical Biology at the Target Discovery Institute (TDI). He joined Goethe University Frankfurt in 2015 as a Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He has been the CSO of the newly founded SGC node at the Goethe University Frankfurt since 2017. 

EMBO press release

Contact:
Stefan Knapp, Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Buchmann Institute of Molecular Life Sciences, Faculty of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy, Riedberg Campus, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, Tel.: +49 (0) 69 798-29871, Knapp@pharmchem.uni-frankfurt.de