New York University
Professor Dirk Trauner was born and raised in Linz, Austria, studied biology and chemistry at the University of Vienna, and received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the Free University, Berlin. He then pursued a PhD in chemistry under the direction of Prof. Johann Mulzer, with whom he moved to the University of Frankfurt and then back to Vienna. Following a stint in the Austrian Army, he became a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Samuel J. Danishefsky at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. After two great years in New York City, Dr. Trauner joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where he rose through the ranks to become an Associate Professor of chemistry (with tenure). He was also appointed as a member of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In the summer of 2008, he moved to the University of Munich and in March of 2017 to New York University.
The broad objective of Prof. Trauner’s research is to demonstrate the awesome power of chemical synthesis with challenging target molecules and to use it toward the establishment of synthetic biological pathways. He is well known for his pioneering contributions to Optogenetics and Photopharmacology, using synthetic photoswitches to confer light-sensitivity to a broad range of targets. The chemical tools he developed are particularly useful in neuroscience and cell biology but also hold promise as precision therapeutics. Despite his extensive forays into biology and physiology Dr. Trauner remains an organic chemist at heart, as evidenced by the synthesis (and anticipation) of more than one hundred natural products.
Dirk Trauner has been awarded the 2016 Emil Fischer Medal and the 2016 Otto Bayer Award and is a Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is also the recipient of the Kitasato Medal, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, an ERC Advanced Grant, and the Austrian Chemical Society Award for the best thesis in 1997. He sits on the editorial advisory board of ACS Central Science, ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Cell Chemical Biology and Chem. His students have taken positions at many leading pharmaceutical companies and universities.