Leipzig University has identified three Strategic Research Fields, that encompass nine Research Profile Areas from inside and outside the university. Acknowledged researchers of the Faculty of Life Sciences participate in the Strategic Research Fields "Sustainable Principles for Life and Health" and "Intelligent Methods and Materials".
Molecular and Cellular Communication
The research profile area of Molecular and Cellular Communication in Therapy and Diagnostics is devoted to investigating complex cell processes.
Communication between molecules, and interactions between cells and between molecules and cells, are essential foundations for the biochemical exchange of information. The research profile area aims to identify, characterise and understand these interactions. The researchers approach this from different angles:
- Why does a cell change?
- How does it react to certain external influences?
The research considers both human and animal cells. For example, the scientists are investigating clinical pictures of cancer and obesity as well as wound healing. Their research results should contribute to the development of new drugs and therapies.
Modern civilisation can contribute to or even cause functional and organic human diseases. We do not yet fully understand the exact mechanisms behind “modern” diseases associated with civilisation. Investigating them is the central goal of this research profile area.
The participating institutions are from the natural and life sciences as well as the humanities and social sciences. Their joint work has interwoven them into large research alliances.
The research focus is on interactions between inflammation, metabolism and regeneration processes, and their significance for modern, lifestyle-related diseases. While Leipzig University’s particular focus is on investigating the modern epidemic of obesity, the Modern Diseases research profile area also unites a number of cancer research projects.
The researchers develop innovative therapies, individually adapted preventive measures and campaign-based health recommendations. The basis for this is excellent collaborative research in the fields of biomedicine, psychology and sociocultural systems. On the basis of successful externally funded projects in the research profile area, the aim is to establish an international reference centre for integrative obesity research.
This research profile area investigates the basics of nervous system function, including movement control, speech, attention, perception and memory, and their variability.
The researchers investigate specific aspects of human behaviour and the human brain, early childhood and evolutionary development as well as neurological and psychiatric diseases such as depression, dementia, stroke, and attention and behavioural disorders. How is the release of neurotransmitters controlled? How does the brain recover from a stroke? What do hibernation and Alzheimer’s disease have in common? The Brain Dynamics research profile area concentrates research into the brain, its diseases and new treatment options.
Sustainable Systems and Biodiversity
Two major challenges of our time, the transformation of energy systems and the sustainable handling of biodiversity as a resource, are the focus of the research activities in this profile area.
The research interests lie in developing environmentally friendly catalytic processes, identifying innovative technologies and solution strategies for energy production, as well as the fundamentals of biodiversity conservation. The aim is to link these three areas of sustainability research:
- How can economically efficient energy landscapes be designed to maximise biodiversity and ecosystem services?
- How can the use of biomass as a raw material base be optimised by new catalytic processes?
- What are the synergies between the objectives and the mechanisms of the climate and biodiversity conventions?
Approaches range from laboratory development to predictive models to large-scale ecological experiments at the landscape scale.
When they are combined, individual building blocks can produce completely new properties. The Complex Matter strategic research field was established to investigate and exploit these properties. It brings together some 27 professors from the Faculties of Physics and Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Mineralogy, BiosciencesLife Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science, the Institutes of Pharmacy and Psychology, Mathematics and Computer Science and the Faculty of Medicine. From their respective standpoints, they investigate the elementary properties of individual objects – from tiny ions and molecules to complex nanostructures. In this way, they can develop functional units from complex matter such as sensors, catalytic converters and electronic components. One example of where the work of researchers from physics and chemistry overlaps with the biosciences is in the field of cell mechanics, where scientists are investigating how and why a cell changes due to disease.
The Complex Matter research profile area combines excellent basic research with fascinating applications. The researchers are grappling with major challenges that can only be overcome through cooperation between disciplines hitherto regarded as independent, and by closely aligning the experimental with the theoretical.
Currently, approximately 50 doctoral candidates receive excellent, structured postgraduate training at the Graduate School “Building with Molecules and Nano-Objects (BuildMoNa)”, which forms part of the research profile area.