Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology

Applying Engineering to Biology

Simplicity, practicality, systematic thinking and the idea that understanding a thing – or a process or a cell – isn't ensured until that thing can be built.“ (HHMI bulletin, 08/2008)

In 2009 the Department of Biology committed itself to focus its research towards a future key technology known as ”Synthetic Biology“. ”Synthetic Biology“ can be defined as the design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, of novel organisms and devices and the re-design of existing biological systems. The field has developed from the convergence of other disciplines such as genetic engineering, molecular biology, electrical engineering, information theory, nanotechnology and bioinformatics and as such it represents a highly interdisciplinary endeavor. Most important to the field is the inherent key concept of recruiting engineering principles to biology. This includes methodologies such as abstraction, modularity and standardization and therefore defines ”Synthetic Biology“ as the engineering discipline of biology. ”Synthetic Biology“ represents an emerging discipline, however, it promises to become one of the leading technologies for many bio-medical and bioengineering developments in the future.

Early efforts in ”Synthetic Biology“ aimed at altering the behavior of individual biological components. However, these initial systems have now evolved to focus on the construction of complex networks in single-cell and multicellular systems and very recent achievements include the development of sophisticated behaviors such as bi-stability, oscillations, proteins and nucleic acids customized for biosensing, optimized drug synthesis and programmed spatial pattern formation. The de novo construction of such systems offers valuable quantitative insight into naturally occurring systems. Furthermore, as the techniques for system design, synthesis and optimization mature, it is reasonable to predict that the field will rapidly grow thereby extending the existing capabilities of synthetic systems with a large number of novel applications.

In 2020 the TU Darmstadt is bundling its research competence in synthetic biology in a new centre. The ”Centre for Synthetic Biology“ stands out in international comparison due to its engineering and technological character and relies on special expertise: On the one hand, the TU Darmstadt is researching methods for generating genetic logic circuits and using computer models for this purpose, and on the other hand, ion-conducting nanopores are being developed that open up new application possibilities in biosensor technology. The corresponding research groups ”Compugene“ and ”iNAPO“ have already been supported with several million euros as part of the Hessian funding programme for scientific excellence (LOEWE). The new centre brings together scientists from biology, chemistry and electrical and information technology, materials sciences and physics, mechanical engineering and social sciences.

In addition to interdisciplinary research, the new centre will also promote young scientists and accept doctoral candidates within the framework of the recently established ”Life Science Engineering" graduate school.

Laboratory Topic Department
Andrieu-Brunsen Smart membranes Chemistry
Blaeser BioMedical Printing Technology Mechanical Engineering
Bluethgen Ecological Networks Biology
Burg Integrated Micro- and Nanosystems Electrical Engineering and Information Technology
Cardoso Cell Biology and Epigenetics Biology
Doersam Printing Science Technology Mechanical Engineering
Drossel Modeling of Biological Networks on a Cellular Level and the Level of Ecosystems Physics
Ensinger Materials analysis Materials and Earth Sciences
Göringer Synthetic Nucleic Acid-Based Sensory Surfaces Biology
Hamacher Computational Biology from the Single Molecule to the Molecular Network Biology, Physics, Computer Science
Hardt Nano- and Microfluidics Mechanical Engineering
Kabisch Computer-aided Synthetic Biology Biology
Kaldenhoff Aquaporins in Synthetic Model Systems Biology
Koeppl Bioinspired Communication Systems Biology, Electrical Engineering and Information Technology
Kolmar Usable Systems for the Presentation of Biomacromolecules on Microbial Surfaces
Biofunctionalized Nanoparticles as Molecular Switches
Laube Neurophysiology and Neurosensory Systems Biology
Nordmann History and Philosophy of Technoscience Philosophy
Simon Synthetic Microbial Electron Transport Systems Biology
Stein Protein Engineering Biology
Süß Synthetic Genetic Circuits Biology
Thiel Plant Membrane Biophysics Biology
Warzecha Plant Biotechnology and Metabolic Engineering Biology