Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Heidi Olzscha

Dr. rer. nat. Heidi Olzscha, AFHEA

Professor for Biochemistry

Am Kaiserkai 1
20457 Hamburg

Fon:  040.361 226 43303
Fax:  040.361 226 430
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After obtaining her A-levels from the grammar school Christianeum in Hamburg, Germany, Heidi Olzscha studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Hamburg. She did her Diploma thesis at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry/Laboratory Medicine at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf after a half-year long research internship at the Northwestern University in Evanston/Chicago, US. She then continued with her graduate studies at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry with a Kekulé Scholarship from the Fonds of the Chemical Industry Germany and as an elected member of the Elite Network of Bavaria. She received her PhD in Biochemistry in 2010 from the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Germany. In 2011, she continued with her studies on protein quality control and posttranslational modifications as an EMBO long-term Fellow at the Medical Sciences Division, Department of Oncology, at the University of Oxford. She was awarded a Fulford Junior Research Fellow in Medicine at Somerville College Oxford, University of Oxford, in 2013 and became a Celgene Fellow at the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford in 2016. She established her own research group in 2018 at the Institute of Physiological Chemistry, Faculty of Medicine, at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, focusing on protein quality control and proteinopathies. Since 2021, she is Professor of Biochemistry at the Medical School Hamburg MSH.


Heidi Olzscha gained first teaching experience as teaching assistant in practicals of biochemistry for BSc students in life sciences during her doctoral thesis at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. She then taught in lectures, seminars and in the Oxford-typical tutorial style for medical, biomedical and biochemistry students at the Medical Science Division, University of Oxford, UK, and at Somerville College, University of Oxford. She also demonstrated at the preclinical class Principles of Pathology for medical students and created exam questions for 3rd year FHS medical students in the option neurobiology since 2016. She was awarded an associate fellowship from the Higher Education Academy at the University of Oxford in Trinity 2016 with the entitlement to use the post-nominal letters AFHEA. Since 2018, she taught biochemistry and molecular biology for medical and dentistry students at the MLU Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, and was a member in M1 exam commissions (Physikum) for medical and dentistry students in biochemistry and molecular biology since 2019. In addition, she supervised bachelor and master students in biochemistry as well as PhD students and medical doctoral students.

She continues with her engagement in teaching as Professor in Biochemistry at the Medical Faculty of the Medical School Hamburg MSH.


Research interest

Heidi Olzscha’s research activities focus on different aspects of protein quality control (PQC) and its implications on proteostasis. She could demonstrate that amyloid protein aggregates can sequestrate those proteins which occupy crucial hub positions in the cellular protein network. She could also show that aberrant acetylation of proteins, as it occurs during the treatment of lymphomas with histone deacetylase inhibitors, leads to protein misfolding and perturbation of different PQC systems. This could partly be abolished by administration of specific bromodomain inhibitors.

Current projects in Heidi Olzscha’s research group include research on proteasome shuttling factors and their effects on other proteins of the PQC, in particular ribosomal proteins and molecular chaperones. These aspects are investigated in collaboration with Alessandro Ori, FLI in Jena. The researchers are also interested in discovering the influence of components of the PQC on misfolding-prone proteins which are involved in proteinopathies including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. In collaboration with Rüdiger Horstkorte and Matthias Jung from the Institute of Physiological Chemistry at the MLU Halle-Wittenberg, the researchers analyse how these proteins can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and how glycation can influence this process. The researchers in the group of Heidi Olzscha are also analysing the effect of enzymatically created posttranslational modifications, in particular acetylation and citrullination, and their impact on PQC systems. The researchers collaborate in these projects with research groups from the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Department of Oncology and with the Midwood group, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology. Since 2019, Heidi Olzscha is principal investigator in the graduate programme RTG 2155 ProMoAge and supervises PhD students and medical doctoral students within this program funded by the DFG.




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