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Freiburg’s life and engineering scientists win competition to establish a new centre of biological signalling science (bioss) at the University of Freiburg

Cluster “Centre of Biological Signalling Studies (bioss)” funded by the initiative of excellence of the German Federal Government and States

Freiburg, 19.10.2007

The second round winners of the initiative of excellence of Germany’s universities have been announced today in the course of a press conference. The application from Freiburg for biological signalling research will be sponsored with up to € 32,5 million within the next 5 years.

Biological signalling processes are of fundamental importance for the development and maintenance of cells and cellular activities in living organisms. The sum of these processes can be regarded as the software of a cell, controlling its survival, proliferation and differentiation programs.

A dysfunction or de-regulation of this bio-software is the cause of many human diseases. Therefore, signalling studies provide solutions not only to essential biological questions but also to major medical problems.

Signalling scientists are confronted with the enormous complexity of their research subject. To cope with this complexity of life the bioss scientist want to combine the active field of signalling studies with the emerging field of synthetic biology that is likely to gain more prominent in the near future. The latter field applies principles of engineering such as simplification of problems, standardization of components, and the rebuilding of functional modules for the analysis of complex biological systems. The new analytical-synthetical research strategy will allow bioss scientists to play with molecules and molecular systems thus reaching a new level of understanding of dynamic signalling processes in living cells.

The bioss centre will be build on the excellent research of the Freiburg bio- and engineering scientists. The funds of the initiative of excellence will be used to support the innovative research and education program of bioss with four W3 tenure-track professorships and 5 junior research groups who will enter a competitive tenure-track system organised by bioss. The bioss centre will have a new dynamic research structure that includes the “toolbox”, a resource centre for signalling engineers, the “signalling incubator”, an independent postdoc lab, and programmes for technology transfer and for the training of signal engineering students. To secure their future beyond the PhD stage, bioss will install programmes to support female scientists at different stages of their careers. In close collaboration between engineering and biosciences groups bioss will develop two new machines for pathway assembly and image analysis as well as a modern technical platform for gene and protein analysis. The new building of the centre for system analysis (ZBSA) - that will open at the beginning of 2008 - will be the base for most bioss groups and structures. The bioss programmes funded by the initiative of excellence will increase the international visibility and the efficiency of signalling scientists in Freiburg, and allow them to secure the education of a new generation of biologist and bioengineers.

For further inquiries please contact:

Prof. Dr. M. Reth
Coordinator of the cluster "biological signaling studies"
Faculty for Biology and MPI for Immunology
Abt. Molecular Immunology
Stübeweg 51; D-79108 Freiburg
Tel +49 761 5108 420
Fax +49 761 5108 423

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