Ulrike Mayer


  • 0.04 Bio-Medical Research Centre (BMRC)

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Personal profile

Administrative Posts

  • Co-Director of the Biomedical Research Centre
  • Chair of the Disease Modelling Unit user group
  • Member of the MRC sift committee


  • 2005 onwards, Professor of Cell Biology, Biomedical Research Centre, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK
  • 2002-2005, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences, Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, University of Manchester, UK
  • 2000-2002, Lecturer in Dental Genetics, Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, University of Manchester, UK
  • 1994-2000, Junior Research Leader, Max-Planck-Institute of Bochemistry, Martinsried, Germany
  • 1993, Research Assistant, Max-Planck-Research Group for Rheumatology and Immunology, University of Erlangen, Germany
  • 1988-1992, Research Assistant, Department of Exracellular Matrix Research, Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany
  • 1988, Ph.D. in Chemistry, 1988 Ludwig-Maximillian University of Munich, Germany
  • 1984, Diploma in Chemistry Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Germany

Key Research Interests

Our group aims at understanding the role cell-extracellular matrix interaction plays in development and tissue maintenance in the adult. Using mice as a model system, we are interested to unravel the mechanisms by which cells direct extracellular matrix composition, and vice versa, how the environment influences cellular behavior. In recent years, we have focused our research on the function of cell surface receptors for skeletal muscle maintenance and regeneration and the role of muscle stem cells as potential therapeutic target in muscle wasting diseases, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Current Research Projects

  • Integrin function ins skeletal muscle
  • Signalling mechanism in skelatal muscle
  • Integrin function in muscle stem cell renewal and proliferation
  • Satellite cells and pericytes in muscle regeneration
  • Autophagy in skeletal muscle
  • Skeletal muscle function in diet-induced obesity

PhD Positions

Click here for current PhD opportunities in Biological Sciences. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Teaching Interests

  • 4008Y (Skills for Biologists)
  • 4005Y (Introduction to Biomedicine)
  • 2B06 (Cell Biology)
  • 2B30 (Investigation of Human Disease)
  • 3C41 (Genomes, Genes and Genomics)
  • M201 (Frontiers in Molecular Medicine I)
  • M202 (Frontiers in Molecular Medicine II)
  • I also offer undergraduate and postgraduate Research Projects


During my undergraduate studies in Chemistry I majored in Biochemistry. I therefore decided to carry out a biochemical PhD project on hyaluronan at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried/Germany. In 1988, I joined Dr. Rupert Timpl, a world-renowned expert in extracellular matrix proteins, as a post-doc at the Max-Planck-Institute and worked mainly on the structure/function relationship of extracellular matrix/basement membrane proteins. Research to which I have contributed has involved the biochemical study of nidogen, a major component of basement membranes, and the identification of its binding repertoire to collagen type IV, perlecan and laminin. Of special importance was the identification of the nidogen-binding site within the laminin g1 chain, its characterisation as a single epidermal growth factor-like module of 56 amino acids and its structural characterisation. This work had world-wide impact and generated a model how basement membranes are assembled. 

In 1992, I moved to the Max-Planck Research Group for extracellular matrix in Erlangen. During that period I initiated in vivo analysis of basement membrane proteins and their cellular receptors using mouse knock-out technology. From 1993-2001, I worked in the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried/Germany as an independent senior scientist in the Department of Protein Chemistry (head: Dr. Rupert Timpl) and established my research group. We were first in demonstrating that mutations in integrin alpha7 lead to a muscular dystrophy and we were amongst the first groups introducing subtle mutations in mice, which allowed us to study a protein-protein interaction in vivo.

In 2000 I joined the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix research at the University of Manchester and finally moved to the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia in 2006 as Professor of Cell Biology.

I am still deeply connected with the research area I was trained in as a PhD student and Post-doc, but am taking now a broader approach to understand disease mechanisms when cells fail to communicate with their environment, especially in skeletal muscle.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


  • Biology (general)
  • Cell-Matrix interaction
  • Basement membrane
  • Glucose homeostasis
  • Integrins
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Satellite cells
  • Muscle regeneration
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Transgenic mice

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or