Strengthening of Drug Bioinformatics at the Saarbrücken Site

Klaus Faber Foundation supports successful call defence of Prof Olga Kalinina by HIPS and Saarland University

Saarbrücken, November 6, 2023 – In the context of the tenure negotiations for Drug Bioinformatics Professor Olga Kalinina, the Klaus Faber Foundation is providing €100,000 to the "bioINFpro" project, thereby enabling her long-term stay at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) and Saarland University. Since 2018, Prof Kalinina, as a Klaus Faber Foundation Professor, has been involved in bioinformatic research on new drugs against infectious diseases. The confirmation of project funding took place on November 6, 2023, on the campus of Saarland University. HIPS is a site of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in cooperation with Saarland University.

With additional funding of €100,000, the Klaus Faber Foundation supports Kalinina's project "bioINFpro," which aims to expand drug research through AI-based methods and develop new antibiotics against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In doing so, the foundation makes a significant contribution to retaining Kalinina at the Saarbrücken site, despite an attractive offer from Heidelberg University. When Kalinina was appointed jointly by Saarland University and HIPS at the end of 2018, she was the first scientist at HIPS whose group was explicitly dedicated to bioinformatic research. Since then, the number of groups in the field of bioinformatics at HIPS has grown to five with additional funding from federal and state sources.

Elena Yorgova-Ramanauskas, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy, honors the extraordinary commitment of the Klaus Faber Foundation: “The state government has continuously supported the HIPS since it was founded and I am very pleased that other stakeholders also recognise the potential of the HIPS and acknowledge its outstanding achievements. Thanks to the generous support of the Klaus Faber Foundation, it has been possible to bundle the expertise of the HIPS together with Saarland University in the important field of drug bioinformatics in an endowed professorship, which has undoubtedly developed into a success story with the appointment of Prof Kalinina. The renewed support will make a significant contribution to continuing this success story.“

"The outstanding scientific work of HIPS was crucial for the Klaus Faber Foundation's commitment in 2018 to engage in funding and, at the suggestion of Prof Müller, to participate in the establishment of the endowed professorship for Drug Bioinformatics in cooperation with Saarland University. Since then, both HIPS as a whole and the now broadly established focus on bioinformatics have experienced a tremendous development. On behalf of the Klaus Faber Foundation, we are pleased to continue supporting the excellent work at HIPS through our initiative bioINFpro," says Dr Andreas Schmitt, Board Member of the Klaus Faber Foundation.

"The funding of the endowed professorship for Drug Bioinformatics by the Klaus Faber Foundation allowed us to lay a foundation in this now indispensable field of drug research. In the following years, we were able to make bioinformatics a core topic of the institute and attract numerous new, excellent groups to the site. Without the support of the Klaus Faber Foundation, this would not have been possible in this form," says Prof Rolf Müller, Scientific Director of HIPS.

"With the Klaus Faber Endowed Professorship for Drug Bioinformatics, Saarland University and HIPS can continue their highly successful interdisciplinary collaboration at the interface of two research focal points on campus - bioinformatics and pharmaceutical research. The research work of bioinformatician Olga Kalinina will further advance drug development through AI-based methods and significantly strengthen this research area in Saarbrücken," comments Prof Veit Flockerzi, Vice President for Research at Saarland University.

At the end of 2018, bioinformatician Olga Kalinina was appointed Professor for Drug Bioinformatics at the Center for Bioinformatics (ZBI) at Saarland University and has since also led the group of the same name at HIPS. Her professorship is located in the medical faculty of the university to deliberately strengthen the interaction between computer science and medicine. The basis for the newly established endowed professorship was funding from the Klaus Faber Foundation in the amount of €1.6 million over a period of five years. In her research, Kalinina develops bioinformatic methods to model biological processes on a computer and applies them - for example, to understand how antibiotics and bacteria interact with each other on a molecular level. She also investigates how antibiotic resistance develops and what role genetic factors play.

The confirmation of project funding by the Klaus Faber Foundation took place on November 6, 2023, during a festive event at the presidium of Saarland University.

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