TUM Emerita of Excellence Angelika Görg

“The entire world was my laboratory”

Originally, Angelika Görg only wanted to come to TUM for two years to do her PhD. She stayed all her life. As a pioneer in the research of Proteomics, she has received many awards and she found recognition worldwide.

Chemistry awakened the spirit of research in TUM Alumni Angelika Görg. Even today she remembers her school days and an excellent chemistry teacher who came from industry. An internship during her studies at the Max Planck Institute for Virus Research did the rest: Angelika Görg loved the working atmosphere in the research team, and her fascination for research was awakened. “Proteins became my favorite subject during my studies,” she says in retrospect. Appropriately, a suitable research topic was awarded at the newly created Institute of Food Technology of the Weihenstephan Science Centre of TUM. “I agreed and originally only wanted to stay for two years. It turned into a lifetime.”

The first habilitated woman in her faculty

The methodical development work on differentiating and identifying proteins, i.e. the path from genome to proteome, became Angelika Görg’s passion. In the eighties this was electrophoresis. There were national electrophoresis companies worldwide that held national and international meetings on a regular basis. It was here that Angelika Görg began lecturing. “The high-resolution two-dimensional electrophoresis developed by us with immobilized pH gradients and subsequent identification of hundreds of proteins was very state-of-the-art.” So up-to-date that the young researcher was soon regularly invited abroad to lectures and collaborations. In 1989 she was the first woman to be habilitated at her faculty.

Angelika Görg has researched and taught all over the world. She has been a highly esteemed guest at congresses and co-operations in America, China, Japan, Korea, and Australia. “I have learned of the latest results of research in the craziest places in the world. It never cost TUM anything. The trips were always paid my hosts.” However, TUM created the necessary framework conditions to support such broad international research activity. Angelika Görg, who has received many awards and honors, is still grateful to TUM for the good conditions there. “My laboratory wasn’t huge, but that wasn’t what mattered,” she says, “It was important that TUM allowed me to have a worldwide radius of action in research that meant my ‘home’ was never boring. I’m very grateful for that.”

I found a way, but I really had to apply myself.

Much of what Angelika Görg has achieved was not something to be taken for granted, especially in the eighties. “I fought my way through,” she says today. “I found a way that was appropriate for the era, but I really had to apply myself.”  Angelika Görg wrote her essays and lectures at night or on the plane on the way to congresses. There she looked for role models to guide her. “At that time, we had no further training opportunities to learn good presentation techniques or similar soft skills. I just looked at the best people and learned from them.”

Awarded many times

Looking back on her research activities, she still enthuses: “It was wonderful to share the enthusiasm, and the sense of awakening in a new field of knowledge and to share it with colleagues from all over the world and then teach the students such brand new topics, as it were, in lectures at TUM.”

Today, Angelika Görg’s successes can no longer be presented as being restricted to a certain area. Among other things, she successfully applied for the first EU-Proteom project, became involved as President of the German Electrophoresis Society and became a Council Member of the newly founded worldwide Human Proteome Organization in 2001. She has received the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon and the Bavarian Order of Merit. In 2009, TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann awarded her the honorary title TUM Emerita of Excellence. From April 2020 she will be active as first Vice President for President Compliance at TUM.