Hessen visit highlights research cooperation between UW and Germany

The governments of Wisconsin and the German state of Hesse have had a sister state relationship for nearly 40 years. In 2001, the UW System Board of Regents signed a deal establishing a far-reaching student exchange program between UW System and German universities. In 2019, a roundtable discussion was held to focus on expanding cooperation in teaching and research.

Last month, as part of the ongoing initiative to strengthen research cooperation, three leaders in RNA biology visited the UW–Madison Departments of Biochemistry and Biomolecular Chemistry. The Hessen experts interacted with UW scientists for a symposium about RNA research, and then toured research facilities including the National Magnetic Resonance Facility at Madison, the Biophysics Instrumentation Facility and Biochemistry Optical Core, the Cryo-Electron Microscopy Research Center, and the National Center for Quantitative Biology of Complex Systems. Research presentations about many different areas of RNA biology, ranging from pre-mRNA splicing to coronavirus RNA polymerases and more, were given by trainees and scientists from both UW and Germany. The Hessen delegation also met with faculty, associate deans of basic research, and directors of external relations on campus.

The symposium was organized by UW biochemistry professors Aaron Hoskins and Sam Butcher, UW biomolecular chemistry professor David Brow, and Hessen professors and scientists Katja Sträßer (University of Giessen), Cornelia Kilchert (University of Giessen), and Katharina Höfer (Max Planck Institute Marburg).

“UW-Madison and the universities in Hessen both have amazing research strengths in RNA biology and biochemistry with many shared research interests,” Hoskins says. “We hope that not only will this visit lead to new international collaborations between individual labs, but also to new programs that facilitate reciprocal exchange of graduate students and postdocs between UW–Madison and Germany that catalyze outstanding science and training.”

Some photos from the visit are below.

Composite of four photos from the event.
Top left: RNA symposium attendees at UW and in Germany listen to research presentations. Top right and bottom left: UW biomolecular chemistry professor David Brow, professor Katja Sträßer (U. Giessen), researcher and PI Katharina Höfer (Max Planck Institute Marburg), professor Cornelia Kilchert (U. Giessen), and UW biochemistry professor Sam Butcher toured some of UW—Madison’s research facilities. Bottom right: David Brow, Katharina Höfer, UW biochemistry professor Aaron Hoskins, Katja Sträßer, Cornelia Kilchert, and Sam Butcher pose for a photo. Photos: Laura Vanderploeg.