Anne-Kathrin Classen


I received my BSc in Cell Biology from the University of Manchester and my MSc in Biomolecular Sciences from the University of Amsterdam. I obtained my PhD work at the Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, where I started to work on epithelial biology and polarity in Drosophila. During my postdoc at UC Berkeley I investigated epigenetic regulation of tumor growth by Polycomb proteins. In 2011 I started my Emmy Noether research group at the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich. In 2016 we moved to the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg.


Vanessa Weichselberger

I received my B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Salzburg, Austria, which included an exchange semester at Cardiff University, Great Britain. After my Bachelor studies I had the chance to work as an intern at a research department of Novartis in Zurich, Switzerland, before starting my Master´s studies at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. During my time at the LMU I joined Anne’s lab and was not able to leave again. So, I stayed for my PhD and I am now working on the mechanics of epithelial cell interactions.

Janhvi Jaiswal

I graduated with a B.E. degree in Biotechnology from BMS College of Engineering (India) in 2012, followed by an M.Sc. degree in Genetics of Human Disease from University College London (U.K.) in 2013. I worked as a Research Fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (India) from 2014-2016. In September 2016, I joined Anne’s lab as a PhD student and I am now briefly working as a postdoc. I am keenly interested in studying stress responses within the epithelial sheets in tissue damage as well as cancer. 

Deepti Prasad

I graduated with B.Sc. in Biotechnology in 2011 and M.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics in 2013 from the School of Life Sciences, Manipal University, India, and completed my master thesis at the National Institute of Immunology, India. From 2014-2017, I was a part of the Cancer Research Program at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (India) with a fellowship from the University Grants Commission, Government of India. I moved to Germany as a PhD fellow of the Spemann Graduate School for Biology and Medicine in 2017, and joined the Classen group for my PhD. My doctoral study focuses on the elucidation of the mechanisms regulating cell elimination from the epithelial layer.

PhD students

Friedericke Fischer


I studied molecular medicine at the University of Freiburg and continued working on my master’s thesis project after graduation, for which I investigated the regulatory function of a recombinant fusion protein in the complement system. I spent one year at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Switzerland before joining the Classen lab as PhD student of the International Max Planck Research School for Immunobiology, Epigenetics, and Metabolism. My doctoral study focuses on the role of cell affinity in intra-epithelial tumor suppression. 

Ananth V Maya

I graduated with an integrated BS-MS dual degree in Biological Science from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in 2019. During my master’s thesis in Jishy Varghese’s lab, I try to investigate the role of Drosophila Insulin signaling in tracheal development. Immediately after graduating, I moved to Germany to join the International Max Planck Research School for Immunology, Epigenetics, and Metabolism graduate school in Freiburg. The same year after my lab rotations, I joined our Classen lab to start my doctoral research in tissue regeneration. My research focuses on investigating metabolic reprogramming associated with tissue regeneration using Drosophila. Outside lab hours, I do learn and experiment with cooking. During weekends, I travel, do nature photography and watch many movies and series. And recently, I started my swimming lessons, thanks to people in the lab.

Liyne Nogay

I graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Middle East Technical University (METU, Turkey) in 2017 and an M.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Bioengineering from Sabancı University (Turkey) in 2020. Later on, I moved to Germany as a PhD student of the International Max Planck Research School for Immunobiology, Epigenetics, and Metabolism and joined Classen lab in 2020. My doctoral study focuses on the characterization of nuclear adaptations to tissue damage using Drosophila wing imaginal discs. In my free time I enjoy swimming, reading, and watching series.

Lara Heckmann

I studied molecular biotechnology at the University of Heidelberg, which included several research internships in the fields of molecular biology, bioinformatics and biophysics. After my master’s thesis on cell polarization and mechano-sensing mechanisms, I worked for one year in the group of computational pathology at the University Hospital of Frankfurt and gained new insights in python programming and machine-learning based image analysis. In 2022 I luckily joined Anne’s lab as a PhD student of the International Max Planck Research School for Immunobiology, Epigenetics, and Metabolism. My doctoral study focuses on cell-affinity and mechanics of epithelial cells at somatic-germline interfaces. Outside the lab, you can find me either under water with snorkel and puck, dancing around or at a crime dinner table with friends.

Anna Frey

I received my B.Sc. degree in Biology and completed my M.Sc. in Applied Biosciences at the University of Freiburg. During my bachelor’s I had the chance to travel to Ecuador for an ecological internship. For my master’s thesis I joined the Classen Lab and started to investigate the role of Toll receptors in intra-epithelial tumor suppression. Keen on further continuing my project I was luckily able to stay in Anne’s lab and am currently focusing on functions of Toll receptors and NFκB signaling during intra-epithelial defenses against mis-specified cells. Besides working in the lab, I enjoy most things that involve colors and crafting, reading and music, or trying out new spices and ingredients in the kitchen. 


Isabelle Grass

Former lab members

Carlo Crucianelli


Dr. Ramya Balaji


Dr. Aynur Copur


Dr. Christina Bielmeier

christina graduation

Dr. Marco La Fortezza


Dr. Addie Kolybaba


Dr. Andrea Cosolo


and the many great Bachelor and Master students that have worked with us over the years…