iRTG of the TRR 333

The Integrated Research Training Group (iRTG) of the TRR 333 -  funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) - offers a three-year, English-language doctoral program with a highly complex, multidisciplinary field of research that provides our doctoral students an outstanding opportunity to acquire interdisciplinary research skills. 

As a part of the TRR333 the doctoral students will deal with crosstalk between cell organelles, cells, tissues and organs and investigate the systemic effects on energy balance

The Program

Based on the longstanding experience with structured graduate programs of the participating institutions, the educational program of the TRR333 is closely linked to the already existing university programs.

The iRTG training program is tailored to finalize the doctoral thesis in 3 - 3.5 years.

For the scientific training, we strongly focuses on applied state-of-the-art methods and technologies. Workshops and seminars are offered by all project leaders and by the expert teams of the Collaborative Research Center on site or remote (via Zoom).

Timeline of the iRTG qualification program © Bosse und Meinhard GbR, Reinhard Bosse. Michael Meinhard

Internationalization is a further important educational aspect. Our PhD students are involved in the organization of the international guest lecture program of the CRC/TRR333 and they meet the experts in informal settings, participate in international lab visits, actively contribute to international conferences in the BAT research field.

With the iRTG program, we have made it our goal to promote early awareness of collaboration, networking, and intensive scientific exchange, to increase self-confidence for independent research, and to lay the foundation for a successful scientific career.

By graduating from the program, our PhD students are well prepared to take on leading positions in academic as well as non-academic professional areas worldwide.

Our Doctoral Researchers


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© Sabrina Melanie Pilz

Sabrina Melanie Pilz

My name is Sabrina Melanie Pilz and I did my bachelors degree in Bioanalytics and my masters degree in Toxicology.

Since March 2022 I am a member of the AG Schramm at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf under supervision of Dr. Dorothee Schwinge.

I am working in Project P02 on the functional role of intrahepatic T cell responses for thermogenesis in BAT and WAT. With in vitro and in vivo methods  I try to test the hypothesis that impairment of liver function (inflammatory activity, lipid accumulation) controls bile acid levels and determines hepatocellular handling of metabolite levels, which influence thermogenic responses in BAT and WAT and impair energy expenditure.

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© Karthikeyan Gunasekaran

Karthikeyan Gunasekaran

Namaste! I am Karthikeyan Gunasekaran. I have a bachelors in Biotechnology and a masters in Molecular Life Sciences.  I joined the lab of Prof. Dr. Jörg Heeren as a PhD student at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular cell Biology, UKE, Hamburg. My work focuses on understanding the role of Liver as a gatekeeper of secondary metabolites that affect thermogenesis.

My work is part of project P02 and I collaborate with Sabrina Pilz for the same.


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© Vasiliki Karagiannakou

Vasiliki Karagiannakou

My name is Vasiliki Karagiannakou and I am a PhD student in the Endocrine Pharmacology group of Dr. Anastasia Georgiadi at the Institute of Diabetes and Cancer, Helmholtz Center Munich. My Bachelor’s studies were focused on Molecular Biology and Genetics and my Master’s on Bioinformatics.

My work is a part of the P03 project and the main goal is to create a comprehensive single nuclei resolution atlas of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their isoforms in brown and white adipose tissue, which will be used for identifying novel clusters of cells that can be targeted by specific GPCRs drugs or novel drug combinations in the context of diabetes and obesity treatment.

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© Aspasia Thodou Krokidi

Aspasia Thodou Krokidi

My name is Aspasia Thodou Krokidi and I hold a M.S. in Molecular and Applied Physiology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. In July 2022, I have joined Dr. Georgiadi’s lab, Endocrine Pharmacology Group at the Institute of Diabetes and Cancer, Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich.

As part of the PO3 project, our research focuses on novel roles of the FNDC4-GPR116 receptor-ligand interaction in liver adipose tissue crosstalk and regulation of energy expenditure.


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© Alex Braunsperger

Alex Braunsperger

My name is Alex Braunsperger and I am an Exercise Physiologist at the Exercise Biology Group (Henning Wackerhage) at the Technical University of Munich. Recently, I have finished the Sport and Exercise masters course of the TUM and will continue to pursue my PhD within the ExBat project (P04) of the TRR333/BATenergy consortium. Along with Philipp Baumert, I am running the human experiments and will be establishing adipocyte cell culture as well as thermogenesis marker-related measurements in our Lab in Munich. My deepest interest lies in the effects and mechanisms of action of exercise stimuli in humans.

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© Dominik Tischer

Dominik Tischer

My name is Dominik Tischer and I recently finished my Master of Science in Sports Physiology and Medicine in Sweden. I now work as a PhD Student in the group of Professor Pfeifer in the Project P04 working with my supervisor Dr. Ana Soriano Arroquia investigating the effects of exercise on human thermogenic adipose tissue and trying to elucidate the mechanisms between skeletal muscle and adipose tissue crosstalk.


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© Peter Stenzel

Peter Stenzel

I’m Peter and I graduated in Nutrition Science at the University of Potsdam. Currently, I’m part of the TRR333 consortium in project 5 supervised by Prof. Dr. Jörg Heeren from the University Medical Center in Hamburg. The aim of my project is to discover alternative mechanisms for the triglyceride-rich lipoprotein (TRL) uptake and adaptive response in brown (BAT) and white adipose tissue (WAT). Furthermore, I’m investigating whether TRL-derived lipids serve as substrates for paracrine lipokines generated and released by vascular endothelial cells of BAT and WAT.


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© Uniklinikum Bonn (Rolf Müller)

Tabea Elschner

My name is Tabea Elschner and I am a PhD Student in the research group of Prof. Dr. Kerstin Wilhelm-Jüngling, Institute for Cardiovascular Sciences and Institute of Neurovascular Cell Biology (INVZ) at the university hospital Bonn. I studied ‘Molekulare Biomedizin’, B. Sc. at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and ‘Molecular Biosciences’, M.Sc. with a Major in ‘Molecular and Cellular Biology’ at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. As part of project P06 (project leaders Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer and Prof. Dr. Kerstin Wilhelm-Jüngling), I study the interaction of endothelial cells and adipose tissue with a special focus on the role of taurine transporters for their interplay.


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© Simon Meyer

Simon Meyer

I am Simon Meyer and I received my Master degree in Molecular; Life Sciences from the University of Hamburg. Since 2020 I work as part of AG Worthmann and AG Bosurgi on P07, looking into the role of brown adipose tissue macrophages.
Specifically I am interested in how the microeinviorment in activated brown adipose tissue shapes macrophage phagocytic capacity and how this impacts apoptotic cell clearance and ultimately BAT function.

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© Jennifer Witt

Jennifer Witt

My name is Jennifer Witt and I graduated with a master's degree in toxicology at the HHU Düsseldorf. In 2022 I started my PhD in the research group of Anna Worthmann where I am currently working on project 07, a collaboration between Lidia Bosurgi and Anna Worthmann. In particular, I focus on the impact of lipid uptake and processing by adipose tissue macrophages on cellular and systemic energy metabolism.


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© Silvia Hoch/Uni Bonn

Frederike Graelmann

My name is Frederike Graelmann and I graduated from the University of Bonn with a Master of Science in Immunobiology. In 2022, I joined the “Immunology & Environment” group of Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster as a PhD student at the Life & Medical Sciences Institute Bonn. As part of the project P08, I am investigating the role of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) signaling pathway in regulating energy metabolism and thermogenesis. My focus will be to examine the AhR-dependent interaction between immune cells and adipocytes in homeostasis and obesity using in vitro and in vivo models.


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© Katharina Küllmer

Katharina Küllmer

I am Katharina Küllmer and I graduated from Technical University of Munich with a Master of Science in Molecular Biotechnology. Following my graduation in 2021, I started working as a PhD student at the Chair of Molecular Nutritional Medicine with PD Dr. Tobias Fromme as my supervisor.

My project (P09) is focusing on paracrine fibroblast growth factors as metabolic messengers in adipose tissue inter-organ communication.


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© Uniklinikum Bonn

Ronja Kardinal

My name is Ronja Kardinal and I started my scientific studies in 2016 at the University of Bonn and obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 2019. After deciding to stay in Bonn, I started the Master’s program ‘Molecular Cell Biology’. In 2022, I wrote my Master thesis in the Lab of Prof. Dr. Dagmar Wachten, evaluating adipose tissue regulatory T cells in a ciliopathy mouse model. I continued working in the Wachten Lab as a PhD student and now focus on studying the function and regulation of adenylyl cyclases specifically expressed in brown and beige adipose tissue in the context of project 10 of TRR333.

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© Danli Ran

Danli Ran

My name is Danli Ran and I graduated from LMU Munich with a Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences, followed by obtaining a pharmacy degree. Since 2021, I am a PhD student in the group of Prof. Alexander Pfeifer at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology in Bonn.

As part of P10, my research focuses on the regulation and function of GPCR signaling in thermogenic adipose tissue.


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© Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen

Daniel Agudelo

My name is Daniel Agudelo, I am a doctoral researcher at the Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology in Helmholtz Zentrum Munich. 

I did a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Bioinformatics and computational biology back in Manizales, Colombia.

In December 2021, I joined project P12 led by Prof. Dr. Henriette Uhlenhaut in Helmholtz Munich. Through in vivo and in vitro experiments, I am studying the role of the Glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in brown adipose tissue. By using RNA and ChIP-seq, we are investigating whether GR genomics actions are driven by interacting with other transcriptions factors, and how this mechanism affects BAT metabolism and/or its physiology.

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© Mireia Llerins

Mireia Llerins

My name is Mireia Llerins, and I am originally from Barcelona, where I completed my bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine at the University of Barcelona. I then moved to Germany to do a master’s degree in Nutrition and Biomedicine at the Technische Universität München. Since October 2022, I am working on my PhD in Project 12 under the guidance of Prof. Yongguo Li at the Universitätsklinikum Bonn. My main aim is to unravel the physiological effects of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) on brown adipose tissue activation, as well as the interplay between ACTH and glucocorticoids in this tissue.

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© Laura Heimerl

Laura Heimerl

My name is Laura Heimerl and I completed my Master’s degree in Nutrition and Biomedicine at the Technical University Munich in 2022. Since January 2023, I am a PhD student in the group of Prof. Yongguo Li at the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology in Bonn where I study the transcriptional regulation and stability of UCP1 as part of P12. More specifically, I aim to elucidate the role of nutrient sensing pathways and nutrition associated endocrine cues such as glucocorticoids for the expression and turnover of UCP1 in brown and beige adipocytes.

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© Maria Nieves Arredondo Lasso

Maria Nieves Arrendondo Lasso

My name is Maria Nieves Arredondo Lasso. I am a doctoral researcher at the Chair for Metabolic Programming / Helmholtz Zentrum (Uhlenhaut Lab) in Munich. I did my B.Sc. in Biotechnology Engineering with a focus on Molecular Biology at ITESM (Mexico) and my M.Sc. in Molecular Bioengineering at TU Dresden.

My project focuses on the orphan nuclear receptor Tr4 in the context of liver disease. I seek to establish whether Tr4 is in fact ligand-gated and to find its ligand.


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© Janina Behrens

Janina Behrens

My name is Janina Behrens and I am currently working as a PhD student in the Group of Prof. Jörg Heeren in Hamburg, Germany. Together with the PI of Project P13, Dr. Ludger Scheja, I am studying the transcription factor carbohydrate-response element binding protein, which is the dominant transcription factor of de novo Lipogenesis in brown adipose tissue. We aim to find out the role of exogenous and endogenous fatty acids in brown adipose tissue metabolism and thermogenesis. Before I started my PhD in 2021, I studied Molecular Life Sciences at the University of Hamburg and did my master thesis also in the Heeren group.


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© Hildigunnur Hermannsdottir

Hildigunnur Hermannsdóttir

I am Hildigunnur Hermannsdóttir and I graduated from Technical University of Munich with a Master of Science in Nutrition and Biomedicine in 2021. Following my graduation, I joined the lab of Prof. Dr. Martin Klingenspor as a PhD student at the Chair of Molecular Nutritional Medicine.

My project (P14), led by Prof. Dr. Martin Klingenspor and Dr. Eva Rath, focuses on the molecular role of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response in white and brown adipose tissue for whole body glucose homeostasis.

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© Annie Naujoks

Annie Naujoks

My name is Annie Naujoks and I graduated at the Technical University of Munich with a Master of Science in Nutrition and Biomedicine. Following my graduation in 2021, I joined the lab of Prof. Dr. Dirk Haller as a PhD student at the Chair of Nutrition and Immunology. Under the lead of Prof. Dr. Martin Klingenspor and Dr. Eva Rath I am working on project P14, which focuses on the molecular role of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response in white and brown adipose tissue for whole body glucose homeostasis.


© designlevel 2

Daniel Haas

Degree: M.Sc. Molecular Biotechnology

Position: PhD student

Project: 14 (Natalie Krahmer, Proteomic analysis of brown adipocyte organelle dynamics and contact site formation)

My role is to develop a data analysis pipeline and software to detect proteins involved in LD-mitochondrial contact sites by Protein Correlation Profiling.


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© Mersiha Hasic

Mersiha Hasic

I am Mersiha Hasic, and I studied at the Technical University Munich, where I received the Bachelor (Nutritional Sciences) and the Master degree (Nutrition and Biomedicine). After finishing my master's thesis project in 2023 at the Chair for Molecular Nutritional Medicine, I have started working as a Ph.D. student at the same chair.

I work on Project 17, led by Prof. Martin Klingenspor, where I investigate the alternative pathways of thermogenesis in UCP1-ablated mice upon cold exposure. In particular, I am interested in recruitment of futile lipid cycling in adipose tissues for thermogenesis.

iRTG Team

Avatar Klingenspor

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Martin Klingenspor

Avatar Stefanie Wochian

iRTG administration Stefanie Wochian

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