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Academic Staff

Professor JAUCH, Ralf

Professor JAUCH, Ralf

  • MSc, PhD (U of Göttingen)
  • Associate Professor
L4-41, Laboratory Block, 21 Sassoon Road, Hong Kong
+852 3917 9511 (Office); +852 3917 9200 (Lab)
+852 2855 9730
  • Cellular reprogramming
  • Directed molecular evolution in mammalian cells
  • Synthetic transcription factors
  • Structure-function relationships in gene regulation
  • Deep sequencing and data science



  • 2006-2008: Postdoctoral fellow. Genome Institute of Singapore (A*STAR). Singapore.
  • 2002-2005: PhD. Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. University of Göttingen, Germany.
  • 2001-2002: MSc. Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. University of Göttingen, Germany.
  • 2000-2001: Visiting Student Molecular Biology.University of Manchester, UK
  • 1997-2000: Vordiplom. Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany


Our laboratory studies the sequence-function relationship of transcription factor (TF) mediated cell fate conversions. We use structural modelling and quantitative biochemical assays to analyse the formation of TF complexes on regulatory DNA in combination with deep sequencing techniques.  By contrasting the dynamic binding and gene regulation of paralogous TFs and engineered factors we learn about ‘enhancer codes’ directing pluripotency reprogramming and identify functionally critical structural elements. Lessons learned from these studies allowed us to identify artificially evolved transcription factors that substantially outperform their wild-type counterparts. Our present aims are to decode the functional basis for the enhanced function for artificially evolved transcription factors and to develop novel methods for the directed factor evolution in mammalian cells. Our vision is that any biomolecule-driven cell fate conversion can be enhanced with synthetic factors that will enable the application of reprogramming technologies in regenerative biomedicine.


  • Decoding the molecular basis for the enhanced activity of artificially evolved reprogramming factors
  • Directed molecular evolution in mammalian cells
  • Development of next generation stem cell models
  • Decoupling cellular reprogramming from rejuvenation 
  • Modelling age associated diseases with induced neural stem cells
  • Deciphering the evolutionary origin of stemness
  • Directed induction of totipotency-like states


  1. Weng M, Hu H, Graus MS, Tan DS, Gao Y, Ren S, Ho DHH, Langer J, Holzner M, Huang Y, Ling GS, Lai CSW, Francois M, Jauch R (2023) An engineered Sox17 induces somatic to neural stem cell fate transitions independently from pluripotency reprogramming. Sci Adv 9: eadh2501[perspective] [link to press release]

  2. Hu H, Ho DHH, Tan DS, MacCarthy CM, Yu CH, Weng M, Scholer HR, Jauch R (2023) Evaluation of the determinants for improved pluripotency induction and maintenance by engineered SOX17. Nucleic Acids Res 51: 8934-8956 [link to press release]

  3. Tan DS, Cheung SL, Gao Y, Weinbuch M, Hu H, Shi L, Ti SC, Hutchins AP, Cojocaru V, Jauch R (2023) The homeodomain of Oct4 is a dimeric binder of methylated CpG elements Nucleic Acids Res 51: 1120-1138 

  4. Tan DS, Chen Y, Gao Y, Bednarz A, Wei Y, Malik V, Ho DH, Weng M, Ho SY, Srivastava Y, Velychko S, Yang X, Fan L, Kim J, Graumann J, Stormo GD, Braun T, Yan J, Scholer HR, Jauch R (2021) Directed Evolution of an Enhanced POU Reprogramming Factor for Cell Fate Engineering. Mol Biol Evol 38: 2854-2868.[lay summary]

  5. Hou L, Wei Y, Lin Y, Wang X, Lai Y, Yin M, Chen Y, Guo X, Wu S, Zhu Y, Yuan J, Tariq M, Li N, Sun H, Wang H, Zhang X, Chen J, Bao X, Jauch R (2020) Concurrent binding to DNA and RNA facilitates the pluripotency reprogramming activity of Sox2. Nucleic Acids Res 48: 3869-3887

  6. Malik V, Glaser LV, Zimmer D, Velychko S, Weng M, Holzner M, Arend M, Chen Y, Srivastava Y, Veerapandian V, Shah Z, Esteban MA, Wang H, Chen J, Scholer HR, Hutchins AP, Meijsing SH, Pott S, Jauch R (2019) Pluripotency reprogramming by competent and incompetent POU factors uncovers temporal dependency for Oct4 and Sox2. Nat Commun 10: 3477 [press release]

  7. Veerapandian V, Ackermann JO, Srivastava Y, Malik V, Weng M, Yang X, Jauch R (2018) Directed Evolution of Reprogramming Factors by Cell Selection and Sequencing. Stem Cell Reports 11: 593-606

  8. Malik V, Zimmer D, Jauch R (2018) Diversity among POU transcription factors in chromatin recognition and cell fate reprogramming. Cell Mol Life Sci 75: 1587-1612

  9.  Jerabek S, Ng CK, Wu G, Arauzo-Bravo MJ, Kim KP, Esch D, Malik V, Chen Y, Velychko S, MacCarthy CM, Yang X, Cojocaru V, Scholer HR, Jauch R (2017) Changing POU dimerization preferences converts Oct6 into a pluripotency inducer. EMBO Rep 18: 319-333

  10. Hou L, Srivastava Y, Jauch R (2017) Molecular basis for the genome engagement by Sox proteins. Semin Cell Dev Biol 63: 2-12

  11. Chang YK, Srivastava Y, Hu C, Joyce A, Yang X, Zuo Z, Havranek JJ, Stormo GD, Jauch R (2017) Quantitative profiling of selective Sox/POU pairing on hundreds of sequences in parallel by Coop-seq. Nucleic Acids Res 45: 832-845

  12. Klaus M, Prokoph N, Girbig M, Wang X, Huang YH, Srivastava Y, Hou L, Narasimhan K, Kolatkar PR, Francois M, Jauch R (2016) Structure and decoy-mediated inhibition of the SOX18/Prox1-DNA interaction. Nucleic Acids Res 44: 3922-35

Link to full publication list:


  • Ho HH, Weng, M Hu H & Jauch R. Methods to convert somatic human cell to a totipotency-like state with engineered SOX17. US Non-Provisional patent application No 18/453,112 filed 21.08.2023.
  • Chen Y & Jauch R. An artificial POU protein for the ultra-fast and highly efficient induction of pluripotency. 201710367783.0. filing data 23.05.2017. 
  • Jauch R, Kolatkar PR, Aksoy I, Stanton LW. Mutant Sox Proteins and methods of inducing pluripotency. US 2012/0220029 A1; Aug 30 2012.
  • Jauch R, Wahl MC et al. Crystallographic Structures of Mnk2 and Mnk1 proteins. US 2011/0159568. Jun 30 2011.


  • Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, General Research Fund (17128918, 2019-2021; 17101120: 2021 - 2023, 17106622: 2023 - 2025, 17117823: 2024-2026)
  • Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, Collaborative Research Fund (C7064-22G: 2023-2025 as Co-I)
  • Health and Medical Research Fund of Hong Kong (06174006: 2019-2022; 08192886: 2021 - 2024)
  • MOST China-EU Science and Technology Cooperation (2013DFE33080, 2014-2016)
  • National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC Grant Nos. 31471238: 2015-2018:  31771454. 2018-2021) 
  • NSFC-Sweden mobility scheme (2016-2019)
  • DAAD/RGC Joint Research Scheme (2019-2021)   
  • S&T Planning Project of Guangdong (2016A050503038, 2016-2018)
  • CAS 100 Talent Award (2015-2017) 


  • 2023: Health and Longevity Award by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine [More information]
  • Since 2016: Deputy Director. GIBH – Max Planck Center for Regenerative Biomedicine. Guangzhou, China.
  • 2016-2018: Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong
  • 2015: State High-end Foreign Expert of China//国家高端外国专家  
  • 2014: 1st Larysa Pevny Award for Excellence in SOX research (4th SOX Research Conference, Cleveland, USA)
  • 2014: 100-Talent award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences/中国科学院百人计划  

Last updated: 8 March 2024