Burkhard Kleuser is the chairperson of Toxicology at the Institute of Food Science. At the same time Prof. Kleuser is also the managing director of the Institute of Nutritional Science. Prof. Kleuser is a certified food chemist with a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a Habilitation in toxicology and pharmacology.
After studying Food Chemistry at the University of Wuppertal Burkhard Kleuser completed a practical year at the Food and Veterinary Office of the federal state Schleswig Holstein. He obtained a Ph.D in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Hamburg. At the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology he worked on the biological functions of ether lipids. A grant from the German Research Association (DFG) allowed him to work at the Medical Center of Georgetown University in Washington DC. There he worked in the group of Prof. Dr. Sarah Spiegel, who discovered sphingosine 1-phosphate as a novel biological signalling molecule. Today it is known that this molecule is a blood borne lipid mediator, in particular in association with lipoproteins such as high density lipoprotein (HDL). A gradient of sphingosine 1-phosphate from lymph node, lymph and plasma is essential for immune cell trafficking. After the stay at Georgetown University, Prof. Kleuser returned to the Institute of Pharmacy at the Freie Universität Berlin, where he habilitated in 2002 and received the Venia legendi in the field of Toxicology and Pharmacology. In 2006 he accepted a position as W2 Professorship of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Institute of Pharmacy at Freie Universität Berlin. Since 2009 Burkhard Kleuser is Professor and Chair of Toxicology at the Institute of Nutritional Science at the University of Potsdam.
His research interests include studies on the role of sphingolipids in the pathophysiology of diseases such as diabetes mellitus as well as infections and immunological diseases. Moreover, epigenetic processes are investigated at the Department of Toxicology. The working group also has a distinguished expertise in the field of sphingolipidomics, the identification and quantification of sphingolipid metabolites.