Engineering Life

Initiative Munich

What we do

Understanding and engineering the basic principles of life

Our mission is to advance the understanding of the physics of living systems across scales to bring solutions to some of the world’s most pressing bioengineering and health issues. To achieve this, we combine novel physics-centered experimental methods, system-level computational approaches, and conceptual bottom-up theory to decipher the physical laws governing the dynamic organization of life from molecules to cells. We re-engineer life-like processes and systems by employing state-of-the-art technologies and by developing novel life-inspired approaches. Our initiative is jointly supported by the LMU Center for NanoScience, the LMU Gene Center, and the LMU Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics.

 Engineering Life Seminar

July 28 at 5.00 pm CEST

Jan-Philipp Junker, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine

Cell fate decisions in health and disease

Every time an egg is fertilized, the cellular diversity of an animal must be built again from scratch. This is achieved by the differentiation of initially pluripotent cells into a multitude of different cell types with distinct gene expression programs. A key goal of developmental biology is to understand how the large variety of different cell types in a fully grown organism is formed. Identification of cell types can be performed in a systematic manner based on single-cell RNA sequencing. However, in such snapshot data the information about the lineage history of cells is lost. Here, I present LINNAEUS, a strategy for massively parallel lineage tracing on the single cell level based on Cas9-induced genetic barcodes. We use LINNAEUS to reconstruct developmental lineage trees in zebrafish at larval stages, and we demonstrate the potential of our approach for studying organ regeneration upon injury. Specifically, use our method to identify the origin and function of transient pro-regenerative cell states that are generated upon heart injury.

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Upcoming seminars

October 27

Stephen Quake, Stanford University
title tba

November 3


November 24


Past seminars

Ebbe Sloth Andersen

Aarhus University

RNA origami: The art of folding an RNA strand to create nanoscale shapes

Clifford Brangwynne

Princeton University

Mechanics of Intracellular Phase Separation

Hao Yan

Arizona State University

Designer Nucleic Acid Architectures for Programmable Self-assembly

Joachim Spatz

MPI for Medical Research Heidelberg

Matter to Life: Bottom-Up Assembly of Synthetic Cells

Stirling Churchman

Harvard Medical School

The dynamics of gene expression, from the nucleus to mitochondria

Donald E. Ingber

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

Human Organ Chips: Reverse Engineering Human Biology for Medical Applications

Jochen Guck

MPI for the Science of Light

Physical states of cells somewhere between life and death

L. Mahadevan

Harvard university

Controlling active matter

Alena Khmelinskaia

University of Bonn

Expanding the repertoire of de novo protein assemblies

Andrew Ellington

University of Texas at Austin

Changing the building blocks of life

Steffen Rulands

MPI for the Physics of Complex Systems

Understanding collective processes in the cell nucleus using single-cell genomics

Cameron Myhrvold

Princeton University

CRISPR-based technologies for detecting and destroying RNA viruses

Cathleen Zeymer

TU München

Design and engineering of lanthanide-binding proteins: from de novo metal coordination to catalysis

Hans Clevers

Hubrecht Institute Utrecht

Organoids to model human diseases

Irene Chen

University of California at Los Angeles

Emergent by-products of RNA evolution

Stephan W. Grill

MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Condensation of proteins on and with DNA

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