Our studies on C. elegans are facilitated by the simplicity of the organism at the developmental and anatomical level, by the ease of its maintenance, as well as by the power of forward and reverse genetic procedures. Furthermore, we take advantage of the complete genome information and by shared resources of the "worm community". Despite of its simplicity, C. elegans is a multicellular organism that shares many fundamental genetic programs with humans, Thus many results obtained in the C. elegans system are likely to be applicable to mammalian systems.
In response to DNA damage organisms activate checkpoint pathways. In multicellular organisms these pathways lead the activation of DNA repair processes, to a transient cell cycle arrest, or to programmed cell death to eliminate cells that might potentially become harmful for the entire organism.
The analysis of the pathways needed for DNA damage sensing and the elucidation of checkpoint responses are currently under intense investigation. We were among the first to use C. elegans to contribute to the understanding of DNA damage dependent apoptosis. Given that genome instability is a major course of human cancers we hope, that in the long run, we might contribute to better tumour-diagnostics and treatment.
In addition to DNA damage responses we are also interested in how telomere length is maintained. Furthermore, we also started to explore C. elegans to uncover molecular mechanisms leading to Parkinson's Disease.