Heike Boehm originally studied chemistry at Heidelberg University. Later on, she carried out a PhD on an interdisciplinary topic combining soft matter physics with cell biology and got attached to hyaluronan – a simple, yet complex sugar of vital importance for our survival. Directly upon finishing her PhD, she was offered a permanent position at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart. This job combined her love of scientific management with her passion for research: She was able to work as scientific assistant to the managing director and later on, she managed her own core facility and at the same time led her own research group, directly supervising PhD students as well as several PostDocs, Master and Bachelor students. Together with her boss, Joachim Spatz, she later moved to the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg.
Shortly after her second daughter was born in 2018, she finished her habilitation at Heidelberg University. During this time, she discovered her love for teaching and writing. Among other courses, she has been teaching an annual seminar on GlycoScience, in which the students have written two published reviews: “A trickster in disguise: Hyaluronan’s ambivalent roles in the matrix” and “Glycan–Lectin Interactions in Cancer and Viral Infections and How to Disrupt Them“
In 2017, Heike was offered the chance to be part of a group of motivated researchers, who wanted to design a new graduate program focused on interdisciplinary research with a strong network between different universities and research organizations. Their original proposal was accepted and the corresponding collaboration contract of the Max Planck School Matter to Life was signed in December 2018. Heike is now leading the coordination team and managing the school as part of the Executive Board full-time. She is also teaching in the MtL program and at Heidelberg University: “The best part of this job? I get to meet all of the new students in a 3-week-block Welcome Course in which we can focus on getting to know this interdisciplinary topic and our individual interests and passions.”