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Dr. Leonhard Urner Transfers From the University of Oxford

The State of NRW Funding a New Junior Research Group at TU Dortmund University

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The picture shows the portrait of a man © Aliona Kardash​/​TU Dortmund University
Dr. Leonhard Urner has transferred from the University of Oxford to TU Dortmund University. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding his junior research group with 1.25 million euros.

As part of the Return Program of the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Culture and Science, Dr. Leonhard Urner from the University of Oxford is coming to TU Dortmund University as a promising young scientist. Through the program, the state is providing 1.25 million euros of funding for five years to establish his independent junior research group. With this working group, Dr. Leonhard Urner will be researching an active ingredient to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which will then be developed into a drug in the future.

As part of the Return Program of the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Culture and Science, Dr. Leonhard Urner from the University of Oxford is coming to TU Dortmund University as a promising young scientist. Through the program, the state is providing 1.25 million euros of funding for five years to establish his independent junior research group. With this working group, Dr. Leonhard Urner will be researching an active ingredient to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which will then be developed into a drug in the future.

The aim of the NRW return program is to bring excellent young researchers from top international institutions back to Germany, more precisely to North Rhine-Westphalia. The 2021 call for proposals focused on research relevant to medicine, inviting young scientists from all over the world to submit their project proposals in this field. Following a competitive application process, six outstanding young researchers managed to set themselves apart and secure the funding. Dr. Leonard Urner was one of them.

Dr. Leonhard Urner studied at Freie Universität Berlin, where he also obtained his doctorate. During this time, he specialized in organic chemistry and supramolecular chemistry with the aim of understanding and controlling the molecular properties of soap. After completing his doctoral degree, he spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, where he succeeded in developing soaps that simplify the examination of bacterial membranes. “The proteins anchored in the membranes are an important starting point for developing new active ingredients,” explains Dr. Leonhard Urner. “In order to isolate these proteins, they are extracted from biomembranes and cleaned using soaps. If conventional soaps are used for this, the sensitive structures of the proteins are often damaged, making them impossible to accurately examine. That motivated me to develop soaps that can be used to make intact membrane proteins suitable for drug research.” He is building on these results with his new junior research group “AntiBac” at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The goal is to research new active ingredients for combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria in order to better treat resistant bacterial infections in the future.

A unique infrastructure in the field of drug research

The researchers in the program can decide for themselves at which NRW university they wish to continue their research. The chemist opted for Dortmund: “TU Dortmund University offers a unique infrastructure in the field of drug research”, says Dr. Leonhard Urner. “Researchers from a wide variety of disciplines come together here. Since our long-term goal is to transfer our findings into a medical application, the location also offers ideal conditions with the Lead Discovery Center and the Drug Discovery Hub.”

The “AntiBac” team started working at the beginning of the year. In addition to Dr. Urner’s position, a postdoctoral position, two doctoral positions and two graduate assistant positions are also being funded. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia will be funding the junior research group with a total of 1.25 million euros until the end of 2026.

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Campus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Campus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Campus to South Campus by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Campus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 15 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on North Campus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Campus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Campus and offers a direct connection to South Campus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dortmund University (Second Page in English).