Prof. Ribbeck obtained her Bachelor’s degree and her PhD in Biology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She continued her postdoctoral research at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany, and the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School. Katharina Ribbeck established her independent research group as a Bauer Fellow at the FAS Center for Systems Biology, Harvard University in 2007, and joined the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT as an Assistant Professor in 2010.
Her research is with The Laboratory for Biological Hydrogels which has a focus on basic mechanisms by which mucus barriers exclude, or allow passage of different molecules and pathogens, and the mechanisms pathogens have evolved to penetrate mucus barriers. It hopes to provide the foundation for a theoretical framework that captures general principles governing selectivity in mucus, and likely other biological hydrogels such as the extracellular matrix, and bacterial biofilms. The Lab’s work may also be the basis for the reconstitution of synthetic gels that mimic the basic selective properties of biological gels.