Helmoltz launches €20M BioInterfaces programme

10 Jun 2009 | News
The Helmholtz Association has launched a new programme to develop tools for precisely controlling the behaviour of cells.

The Helmholtz Association has launched the multidisciplinary BioInterfaces research programme to develop tools and technologies for precisely controlling the behaviour of cells.

The €20 million per annum programme brings together biologists, chemists, physicists, materials scientists and informaticians. It will lead for example, to new ways of growing stem cells, or manipulating cells within an organism and in bioreactor systems. It is expected that these technologies will ultimately contribute to the development of new therapies for many degenerative diseases.

In addition, BioInterfaces aims to develop methods to control or inhibit bacterial cells that form biofilms on man-made surfaces.

“The basic philosophy of the BioInterfaces programme is to learn from nature and then copy it. So, the first stage of our strategy involves a focused, innovative, large-scale analysis to learn more about the natural control mechanisms of cells, and how optimally to manipulate them,” said Uwe Strähle, spokesman for the programme. “This will be achieved by a close partnership between biologists and technology developers.”

In the later stages, multifunctional molecular devices and advanced surface modifications will be designed and built to target and interact with the key molecular control points and thereby to control cell behaviour.

The interdisciplinary nature of the BioInterfaces programme demands a new generation of scientists. The programme has therefore launched the BioInterfaces Postgraduate School to provide interdisciplinary training for approximately 90 PhD students. Students will be offered introductory courses covering all the participating disciplines.

The BioInterfaces researchers have access to large-scale infrastructures such as a synchrotron radiation source, a large computing and data storage facility, micro- and nano-fabrication facilities, and advanced surface analysis technology.

The programme is to be based at the Helmholtz research centre Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe.

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