Martina Baumann, Dr. sc. ETH

“Information is giving out; communication is getting through.“ Sidney J. Harris

Scientific Coordinator

+41 44 632 86 04
Biomedical Informatics Group
Universitätstrasse 6
8092 Zürich
CAB F 52.2

I have a keen interest in the interface between basic research and the clinic. I am passionate about communication, which for me is about breaking complex facts down into digestible pieces of information and connecting people who share a vision for working on a brighter tomorrow.

I studied Biochemistry and obtained my Doctoral Degree from ETH, in the Department of Materials Science, working on tailored bionanomaterials via self-assembly techniques, mimicking structures from mother nature. Before I joined the Biomedical Informatics Group, I worked in communication and public relations for the healthcare industry as well as in fundraising and philanthropic projects for higher education. Clearly, the combination of scientific facts and communication is my thing!

Abstract Small amphiphilic peptides are attractive building blocks to design biocompatible supramolecular structures via self-assembly, with applications in, for example, drug delivery, tissue engineering, and nanotemplating. We address the influence of systematical changes in the amino acid sequence of such peptides on the self-assembled macromolecular structures. For cationic-head surfactant-like eight-residue peptides, the apolar tail amino acids were chosen to systematically vary the propensity to form an alpha-helical secondary structure while conserving the overall hydrophobicity of the sequence. Characterization of the supramolecular structures indicates that for short peptides a beta-sheet secondary structure correlates with ribbonlike assemblies while random-coil and alpha-helical secondary structures correlate with assembly of rods.

Authors Baumann MK, Textor M, Reimhult E.

Submitted Langmuir

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Abstract We have determined the kinetics and affinity of binding of PH-PLCδ(1) to the PIP(2) headgroup lipids using an optical surface-sensitive technique in a time-resolved manner. The use of dual polarization interferometry to probe supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) of different compositions allowed determination of accurate affinity constants and a layer structure of the peptide binding to the model membrane platform. In addition, the platform enabled us to monitor the detailed adsorption kinetics characterized by a strong initial electrostatic attraction of the peptide to the SLB surface followed by rearrangement and loss of possibly clustered peptides upon specific binding to the phosphoinositide headgroup. These kinetics differed substantially from adsorption kinetics for nonspecific binding to similarly charged control SLBs.

Authors Baumann MK, Swann MJ, Textor M, Reimhult E.

Submitted Analytical Chemistry

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Abstract Phosphoinositides are involved in a large number of processes in cells and it is very demanding to study individual protein-lipid interactions in vivo due to their rapid turnover and involvement in simultaneous events. Supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) containing controlled amounts of phosphoinositides provide a defined model system where important specific recognition events involving phosphoinositides can be systematically investigated using surface sensitive analytical techniques. The authors have demonstrated the formation and characterized the assembly kinetics of SLBs incorporating phosphatidylinositol 4,5-biphosphate (PIP(2); 1, 5, and 10 wt %) and phosphoinositol-3,4,5-triphosphate (1 wt %) using the quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. An increased fraction of phosphoinositides led to a higher barrier to liposome fusion, but full fluidity for the phosphatidylcholine lipids in the formed SLB. Significantly, the majority of phosphoinositides were shown to be immobile. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was used for the first time to verify that the PIP(2) fraction of lipids in the SLB scales linearly with the amount mixed in from stock solutions.

Authors Baumann MK, Amstad E, Mashaghi A, Textor M, Reimhult E.

Submitted Biointerphases

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Abstract Lipid membranes are versatile and convenient alternatives to study the properties of natural cell membranes. Self-assembled, artificial, substrate-supported lipid membranes have taken a central role in membrane research due to a combination of factors such as ease of creation, control over complexity, stability and the applicability of a large range of different analytical techniques. While supported lipid bilayers have been investigated for several decades, recent advances in the understanding of the assembly of such membranes from liposomes have spawned a renaissance in the field. Supported lipid bilayers are a highly promising tool to study transmembrane proteins in their native state, an application that could have tremendous impact on, e.g. drug discovery, development of biointerfaces and as platforms for glycomics and probing of multivalent binding which requires ligand mobility. Parallel advances in microfluidics, biosensor design, micro- and nanofabrication have converged to bring self-assembled supported lipid bilayers closer to a versatile and easy to use research tool as well as closer to industrial applications. The field of supported lipid bilayer research and application is thus rapidly expanding and diversifying with new platforms continuously being proposed and developed. In order to use supported lipid bilayers for such applications several advances have to be made: decoupling of the membrane from the support while maintaining it close to the surface, making use of biologically relevant lipid compositions, patterning of lipid membranes into arrays, and application to nanostructured substrates and sensors. This review summarizes recent advances in the field which addresses these challenges.

Authors Reimhult E, Baumann M, Kaufmann S, Kumar K, Spycher P.

Submitted Biotechnology & genetic engineering reviews

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