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5 mins with… Elisabeth Ehler

Dr Elisabeth Ehler is Head of the Muscle Biology Section of our School, which is based at the Randall Centre for Cell and Molecular Biophysics on Guy's Campus. She is Austrian and loves the Cytoskeleton, Confocal Microscopy and Grüner Veltliner.

Elisabeth Ehler
Dr Elisabeth Ehler,

Briefly, tell me about your background and career up to this point

Born & bred in Austria, studied Biology (specialising in Genetics) at the University of Salzburg, Austria then went on to do a PhD in Cell Biology at the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Salzburg. Did my first postdoc for two years at King’s in the hallowed halls of Drury Lane on a Schrödinger Fellowship, after that expired, I had to slum it in Switzerland for seven years (Institute of Cell Biology, ETH Zurich). That job introduced me to the magical world of cardiomyocytes, which have been my main focus of interest ever since. In 2003 I came back to King’s as a Principal Investigator. Currently I am heading the Muscle Biology Section of our School, which is a bijou outstation under the roof of the Randall Centre for Cell and Molecular Biophysics on Guy’s Campus.

What research are you currently working on?

Cardiac cytoarchitecture; i.e. how the multiprotein complexes that make a heart cell work are assembled during development, how they are altered in disease and how these changes affect signalling pathways in the cells. I have even edited a book on this!

What is a typical day like for you?

Involves lots of Nespresso, unfortunately much more time hacking away at the keyboard of my laptop answering emails, writing stuff and dealing with admin that I would like to, interacting with students and collaborators directly or via the internet and if I am really lucky I get to do an experiment (yay!) and to play with a confocal microscope (whoop, whoop!). Ideally ends in the pub in the company of colleagues and friends.

Where is your research area heading in the next five years?

I don’t necessarily believe in 5-year plans.

What would you like members of our School to most know about you and your research area?

I guess they all know me as the “Department of Aesthetics”, i.e. somebody whose lab produces “pretty” pictures; I hope that some members realise that the science behind the pretty pictures is decent, too.

What is your favourite part about your current role?

Nurturing new talent and watching them grow as scientists.

What do you do with your time outside of academia?

I am a culture vulture and go to the opera/the theatre/an exhibition at least once a week.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? 

You can do it!

Who do you look up to (inside or outside of academia)?

People, who have high quality standards and combine that with kindness and a sense of humour.

Any leaving remarks that you would like other members of our school to know about you?

Oh they already know too much about my faults & foibles!

QUICK-FIRE:

Favourite Movie: The Third Man

Favourite Book: Too many to mention! Basically my flat looks like my office just with piles of books instead of piles of papers.

Favourite TV Show: I have never lived in a household that had a TV so that draws a complete blank!

Favourite Scientist: Jean Hanson