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Dr. Maria Hoernke


Group Leader

Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy
Hermann-Herder-Strasse 9
D-79104 Freiburg i. Br.

Phone: +49 761 203 6343
Fax: +49 761 203 6366

eMail: Maria Hoernke

Room no.: 03 005 A




We are a young, interdisciplinary team in biophysical chemistry and connected to the department of pharmaceutics at Freiburg University. We collaborate with groups in Freiburg, Prague, Halle, Leipzig, Jena, Shanghai.

We work with alternatives to classical antibiotics. Using microcalorimetry, time-correlated fluorescence spectroscopy, monolayers, and other biophysical methods, we investigate the selectivity of antimicrobial polymers or pH-reponsive polymer designed for enhanced endosomal escape for different lipid membranes.
We measure and model membrane permeabilization, characterize the interactions of biomimetic compounds, and reach out to microbiology.

Themen für Abschlussarbeiten

Wir bieten Themen für Abschlussarbeiten an. Motivierte KandidatInnen melden sich gerne bei Maria Hoernke. 



 2023 The DFG funds our project about pH-sensitive membrane permeabilization
09-2022 A talk and posters at the german biophysics meeting.
09-2022 Shuai defends her PhD thesis! 3 papers. Great success. Congratulations Dr. Shi!
09-2022 Our paper on Leaky membrane fusion is out. Including a Leakage Protocol.
  Maria contributes to a review about calcein-based assays for endosomal escape
05-2022 Katharina and Maria talk at the Biomembrane Meeting in Drübeck
05-2022 Shuai and Maria talk at the AC21 Meeting in Strasbourg
02-2022 Our paper on a fusogenic antimicrobial polymer is out.
  Our paper about antimicrobial polycations id out. More than Leakage.

Stefanie defends her Diploma project very succesfully. Congratulations. A manuscript is planned.


Our 3 posters are discussed lively at the European Membrane Meeting EJTEMM.


Janina joins us for a project. Welcome!


Anja joins us for a project. Welcome!


Stefanie joins us for her Diploma project. Welcome!


Kartharina joined us for her PhD project. Welcome!


The German Membrane Biophysics Meeting was a success! Thank you everyone who contributed.


Anja defends her PhD Thesis very succesfully. Congratulations Dr. Stulz!


Our paper on lipid selectivity appears in Lagnmuir.


Ndjali finishes his Master: Models for Vesicle Leakage and Binding Experiments on Lipid Vesicles


Ndjali joins us for a project. Welcome!


DFG funds our project about Selectivity in Membrane Permeabilization for 3 years.


We are happy to welcome Shuai for her PhD project and Annika for her practical term!


Anja wins another Poster Award. Well done!


Anja wins a Poster Award. Congratulations!


Our paper about Quantified Membrane Permeabilization is out.
ACS Nano


The Daimler & Benz Foundation supports our research on lipid clustering for two years.


Current research

Since October 2015 Dr. Maria works at the Department of pharmaceutical technology and at the Centre for Biological Signalling Studies (BIOSS) at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (Germany). With her team, she studies antimicrobial lipid selectivity, lipid clustering upon electrostatic interactions and in lectin-membrane interactions.


Dr. Maria Hoernke studied chemistry at the Martin-Luther-Universität in Halle (Germany) and at Universidad de Burgos (Spain). She specialized in physical chemistry and biophysics.

Her Diploma thesis focused on the interactions of peptides with lipid model membranes and was carried out in 2007/2008 in Halle(S.). For her PhD project, Maria moved to the interfaces department of Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam (Germany) to study the impact of interfaces on amyloid formation of peptides. After receiving her PhD in 2012, she joined the Theory & Bio-Systems department of the same MPI to complement the project with molecular dynamics simulations as a Postdoc. In 2013, Maria joined Göteborgs Universitet (Sweden). She won a Marie Curie IEF fellowship in order to use time resolved X-ray solution scattering to study conformational changes in photoreceptor proteins. She also investigated structural changes in membrane associated proteins by infrared spectroscopy.

Maria was speaker of the section 'Membrane Biophysics' of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Biophysik e.V.


List of publications

Research topics 

  • biophysics of lipid membrane models
  • peptide-membrane interactions
  • permeabilization of lipid membranes
  • antimicrobial activity
  • lipid selectivity
  • conformational changes and orientation of mebrane-bound, surface-bound and soluble proteins or peptides
  • surface-sensitive biophysical methods



  • Differential scanning calorimetry
  • Isothermal titration calorimetry
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • X-ray solution scattering (SAXS/WAXS, time-resolved X-ray scattering)
  • UV/VIS spectroscopy
  • Infrared spectroscopy
  • Circular dichroism
  • Dynamic light scattering

Monolayer techniques

  • Infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS)
  • Grazing incidence X-ray diffraction reflectometry (X-ray and neutrons)
  • Total reflection X-ray fluorescence

Computational methods

  • MD simulations


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