Dr. Bernd TimmermannHead of Service Group
Research interest: Human genetic variation – its impact for common diseases and personalized medicine
One of the fundamental questions of human genetics today is how the individual genetic variation affects the disposition to common diseases like cancer and how we can use our growing knowledge about individual differences to develop a better treatment. My own research interest is focused in this direction encompassing two major areas. The first one is human genetic variation and its impact for common diseases and the second main focus of my work is the translation of new sequencing technologies into diagnostic settings and its application in the context of personal medicine.
Together with the department of Vertebrate Genomics my group was involved in the 1000 Genomes Project. The aim of these consortium was to create a fine-grained map of human variation using more than 1000 human genomes in different populations (1000 Genomes Project Consortium 2010, 2012 & 2015, Nature). Comprehension of the natural human variability will be important background knowledge for the identification of disease-relevant variants in disorders like cancer or Alzheimer. The second focus of my work is the translation of new sequencing technologies into diagnostic settings (Kotschote et al. 2010, Timmermann et al. 2010 , Querings et al. 2011, Schweiger et al. 2013, Spier et al. 2016, Binder et al. 2017, Grasse et al. 2018, Xiao et al. 2020 etc.). Patient stratification is the main objective here, to individually select the most favorable therapeutic options suggested by the genetic background observed – in accordance with the current paradigms of the disease. In this context, we are involved in a number of different international initiatives like the OncoTrack or the HeCaTos project.
Many genome related findings in science lead to questions which can only be addressed in model organisms, the sequencing of which is yet another, more basic science oriented target of my work. Here the development and application of sequencing based assays contributes tremendously to the advancement of science. For example the sequencing of the canary bird in collaboration with the MPI for Ornithology in Seewiesen, will help to elucidate the genetic factors involved in speech development and memory (Frankl-Vilches et al. 2015, Genome Biol) The decoding of the alpine marmot genome together with Markus Ralser from the Charite, gave us insights how climate change will have effects on genetic diversity of living organisms (Gossmann et al. 2019, Curr Biol).
Dr. Bernd Timmermann is currently heading the central Max Planck Sequencing Core Facility in Berlin (since 2010) and the Next Generation Sequencing Group at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG, since 2007). Since 2018, he is also acting as head of the Genomic Unit at the new Institute of Emmanuelle Charpentier (Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin). In these roles, Dr. Timmermann collaborates with a huge number of national and international research institutes in the field of DNA and RNA analysis and he was involved in a number of international research projects, like the 1000 Genomes Project, the OncoTrack or the Hecatos Project.
From 2002 to 2007 he was acting as Senior Scientist in the High Throughput Technology Group at the MPIMG.
Prior to joining the Max Planck Society, Dr. Timmermann headed the DNA Sequencing Group of the GenProfile AG (1999-2002), a spin-off of the German National Genome Network.
He received his PhD in molecular medicine at the Charite, Institute for Clinical Pharmacology. Previously, he worked as Scientist in the Genome Research Group at the Max Delbrück Center, Berlin (1995-1998). Bernd Timmermann studied molecular biology at the University of Osnabrück (1989-1994).
Dr. Bernd Timmermann has authored more than 180 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters with a focus on genetic and genomic research (h-index=60, i10-index=114, 50012 citations, 2021/12/31). He serves as reviewer of several major genomic journals and for a number of national funding agencies, like the DFG (German Research Foundation) or the ANR (Agence nationale de la recherche, France). As expert for technical questions, he is also involved in decisions of the German Ethics Council and the Federal Ministry of Health.
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