Dr Boris Guennewig

Visiting Scientist

I was born in Emmerich am Rhein at the Dutch border of Germany and I started my studies with a scholarship in the “Job oriented Biotechnology” curriculum in Perugia/Italy, which was founded by 80 Universities and the European Union. This in general fantastic opportunity appeared to be an organizational catastrophe, with more cancelled lectures than given ones. So I decided to go back to Germany and start a conventional chemistry study, which turned out to be great fun and a thorough education in math, physics and of course chemistry.

For my master thesis and a potential up following PhD thesis, I got an offer from Johnson & Matthey Catalysts, for which I already worked during my studies in different fields of their Research & Development department. In order to gain insights into molecular biology I decided to turn down their really interesting offer and take an alternate offer I got at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in the group of Prof. Vestweber. The decision to work in an area of research new to me confronted me with learning new techniques and methods resulted in a very interesting and intensive time. My project “VE-Cadherin mediated regulation of endothelial cell-cell contacts“ led, with the help of my colleagues and the MPI facilities, to the generation of a knock-in mouse line.

Afterwards I apply at Professor Hall’s group at the ETH in Zurich. The field of siRNA & microRNA was something I was constantly interested in during my studies and I wanted to broaden my knowledge in this direction. I could convince Professor Hall, to hire me into his new founded group and spent four and a half years, the early stages of which involved setting up and establishing a sound research environment, focusing on the fundamentals of targeting RNA and microRNA biogenesis.  After defending my thesis entitled “Synthesis-enabled strategies to identify new microRNA biology” I accepted an offer by John Mattick to work at the Garvan.

Here I am working in the labs of both Antony Cooper and John Mattick, sequencing post-mortem brain samples of people with Parkinson's disease, and taking a detailed look at regions already known to be associated with the disease.

Research Interests

Micro and long noncoding - RNA
Neurodegenerative Diseases


2013: PhD in Nucleic Acid Research & Medicinal Chemistry with Dr Harry Towbin & Prof Jonathan Hall at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zurich/Switzerland: “Synthesis-enabled strategies to identify new microRNA biology”.
2008: Diploma theses in Immunology and generating a knock-in mouse with Prof. Dietmar Vestweber at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine: VE-Cadherin mediated regulation of endothelial cell-cell contacts“.
2008: Chemistry Diploma in Muenster/Germany

Selected Publications

Boris Guennewig, Afzal M. Dogar, Luca F. R. Gebert, Martina Roos, Julian A. Zagalak, Valentina Vongrad, Karin J. Metzner and Jonathan Hall. Synthetic pre-microRNAs reveal dual-strand activity of miR-34a on TNF-alpha. RNA 2014; 20(1):61-75.

Afzal M. Dogar, Giuseppe Semplicio, Boris Guennewig and Jonathan Hall. Multiple microRNAs derived from chemically-synthesized precursors regulate thrombospondin 1 expression. Nucl Acid Therap. 2013; (in press)

Boris Guennewig, Moritz Stoltz, Mirjam Menzi, Afzal M. Dogar and Jonathan Hall. Properties of N4-Methylated Cytidines in miRNA Mimics. Nucleic Acid Therapeutics. 2012; 22(2):109-116.

Harry Towbin, Philipp Wenter, Boris Guennewig and Jonathan Hall. Systematic screens of proteins binding to synthetic microRNA precursors. Nucleic Acid Research. 2012; 41(3): e47.

Dr Boris Guennewig