Many problems that society faces today, originate from our inability to effectively control living systems. Existing strategies frequently lack the requisite specificity and efficacy demanded by modern medicine, biotechnology and industry. Thus, the challenge is to develop novel approaches to manipulate living systems.
The smallest "living" components of biological systems are cells. So logically, any attempt to manipulate a living system effectively must entail targeting its cellular components.
The BioInterfaces programme brings together biologists, chemists, physicists, IT specialists, engineers, and material scientists with the common goal of controlling living systems, and bridges the gap between fundamental research and development of application-oriented technologies and products.
The aims of this programme are to
- Identify the most relevant "key" interfaces that govern particular aspects of cell behaviour.
This involves systematic biological knowledge acquisition (e.g. genetic screens, chemical genetics, determining how surface properties affect cell behaviour) supported by novel technology developments (e.g. Computer Aided Microscopy, Microfluidics, label-free detection).
- Develop tools to optimally interact with the identified interfaces and thereby manipulate cells in the desired manner.
This involves the rational design of modular smart devices or surfaces involving effector molecules, specific targeting, cell penetrating modules etc. (e.g. using in silico strucure prediction, screening libraries of compounds, combinatorial chemistry, surface modification).