Dagmar Wachten studied biology at the University of Cologne. She obtained her doctorate at the Helmholtz Research Center Jülich and then moved on to do a Postdoc at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK. She returned to Germany in 2010 to work at the caesar Research Center in Bonn, where she became a Minerva Max Planck Research Group leader in 2014. In 2017, she was recruited to the University of Bonn as a professor in the Excellence Cluster ImmunoSensation. Since 2020, she is a full professor at the Medical Faculty, head of the Department "Biophysical Imaging and Molecular Physiology", and, together with Eicke Latz and Felix Meissner, director of the Institute of Innate Immunity.
We aim to understand how tissue ecosystems are maintained by cellular communication. We focus on the interaction of non-immune cells with immune cells, in particular with cells of the innate immune system.
A subcellular compartment that is important for sensing information from the environment and, in turn, changing cellular fate and function, is the primary cilium.
In general, cilia protrude from the surface of almost every mammalian cell and can be grouped into two major classes: a) primary cilia, which are immotile and b) motile cilia, which are also called flagella.
Ciliary dysfunction leads to severe diseases commonly referred to as ciliopathies. They comprise e.g. polycystic kidney disease, obesity, blindness, and infertility.
However, the signaling pathways controlling ciliary function are ill-defined. To study ciliary signaling with high spatial and temporal precision, we combine optogenetics and genetically-encoded biosensors with high-resolution microscopy, mouse genetics, and biochemistry. This multidisciplinary approach allows not only to investigate ciliary signaling, but can be applied to any subcellular compartment to study its function with spatial and temporal resolution and investigate cell-cell communication during tissue development and homeostasis and the contribution of the innate immune system.