Prof. Dr. Thorsten Hugel

The group is moving to the University of Freiburg (

Single molecule methods are essential for a thorough understanding of complex biological processes. They allow real time observation of molecular machines at work and their specific manipulation. Results of such experiments yield new insights into problems from fundamental physics at the nano-scale to the development of new drugs.

Methodologically we focus on single molecule multi color FRET, optical tweezers and single molecule force spectroscopy based on AFM.

The multidisciplinarity of our research requires close collaborations with colleagues in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, medicine, biotechnology and physics. The results of the following projects are particularly relevant for:

  • Mechanism of Molecular Machines and their control (e.g. with drugs)
  • Understanding of signalling in biological systems
  • Protein folding and misfolding (e.g. hydrophobic effect, amyloid formation)
  • Biocompatibility of materials and coatings
  • Stimuli responsive biomaterials
  • Fundamental physics at the nano-scale at low Reynolds numbers

Latest Publications

M. Jahn, A. Rehn, B. Pelz, B. Hellenkamp, K. Richter, M. Rief, J. Buchner and T. Hugel (2014)
The charged linker of the molecular chaperone Hsp90 modulates domain contacts and biological function
PNAS 2014 111 (50) 17881-17886 Link:

S. Schwenkert, T. Hugel & M. B. Cox (2014)
The Hsp90 ensemble: coordinated Hsp90–cochaperone complexes regulate diverse cellular processes
NSMB, 21, 12, 1021 (2014)

S. Kienle, M. Gallei, H. Yu, B. Zhang, S. Krysiak, B. N. Balzer, M. Rehahn, A. D. Schlüter, and T. Hugel (2014)
Effect of Molecular Architecture on Single Polymer Adhesion
Langmuir, 30 (15), 4351–4357 (2014)

Research Areas

Molecular Machines
Polymers at Interfaces