Researchers at TUM have so far been able to acquire a total of 206 of the prestigious ERC grants. These are awarded each year in different categories. Consolidator Grants are awarded to scientists who completed their doctorate seven to twelve years ago.
Job BoekhovenIn his project SynLife, Job Boekhoven wants to create synthetic life. This is, however, not about sentient robots or other technological visions. The chemist is researching so-called active droplets. These tiny droplets made of insoluble molecules exhibit life-like behavior: they only form when external energy is supplied and can multiply by dividing with sufficient energy. NASA defines life as a self-sustaining system capable of Darwinian evolution. In order to fulfill these criteria, Job Boekhoven wants to develop molecules that form a kind of genetic material. They are intended to influence properties such as the lifespan of the droplets, are passed on when a droplet divides, and can, in new ways, mutate and lead to new properties. Such artificial evolution could not only help to provide insights into the origins of life, but also make Darwinian evolution usable as a tool for the design of new materials.
Job Boekhoven is Professor of Supramolecular Chemistry. His research on active droplets has already been awarded an ERC Starting Grant.
Karl DuderstadtCell division is an important mechanism in the human body to maintain it and at the same time to reproduce. In the cell nucleus, the DNA is coiled into nucleotides and further packaged into chromosomes. In order for the cell to divide, the DNA must first be unpacked before the DNA strands can be read and duplicated individually. As this step only works in one direction, one of the two strands is replicated continuously and the other strand is replicated discontinuously. So-called replisomes coordinate and carry out the entire process. So far, little is known about how the enzymes and proteins involved communicate with each other and coordinate the reading and duplication of the strands. In the ERC project "Recreating molecular memories: imaging the mechanics of chromosome assembly and the birth of cell identity", Prof. Karl Duderstadt is investigating the interactions within replisomes that ensure faithful chromosome duplication by imaging the dynamics of the process at the single-molecule level.
Karl Duderstadt is Professor of Experimental Biophysics at TUM and research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry.