Science Council approves new research building in Münster

Münster University is planning a new cell research centre, the 'Multiscale Imaging Centre' / Imaging expertise consolidated
Prof. Lydia Sorokin, Prof. Michael Schäfers, rector Prof. Ursula Nelles and Prof. Volker Gerke (from left) clink glasses among MIC- and SoN-scientists
© WWU - Peter Grewer

It was a milestone for scientists from both natural and life sciences in Münster when the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence was granted two years ago. Now, the researchers can celebrate another success: Today (April 11th) the Science Council announced its recommendation for the establishment of a new building, the 'Multiscale Imaging Centre' (MIC), at the University of Münster (WWU). The new building will house more than 300 staff members from different disciplines, investigating cells and their behaviour using imaging techniques. The costs for the building, approximately 62 million euro, will be shared in equal parts by the German federal administration and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The final decision concerning the new building will be made in late June at the joined science conference of the German federal administration and the federal states. It is already the second time in the last year that the Science Council approves a new research centre for the WWU. In 2013, the 'Center for Soft Nanoscience' (SoN) where new nanomaterials will be developed was also recommended for funding.

Scientists from medicine, biology, chemistry and pharmacology, physics, mathematics, computer sciences, and specifically researchers of the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence will work in MIC. 'An interfaculty centre that combines technologies and scientific excellence in the field of molecular imaging like this is unique, and will promote synergies between the different fields', as vice-rector for research Prof. Stephan Ludwig points out. 'Münster as a research location will benefit enormously from MIC. MIC establishes long-term structural foundations for our excellent cell research that will strengthen our international reputation in the field of imaging. This centre will become an 'hub' for new initiatives.'

MIC which is planned to be built in the immediate proximity to the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (MPI) in Münster manifests the concepts defined by the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence. The long standing expertise from different Collaborative Research Centres of the WWU as well as the MPI and the European Institute for Molecular Imaging constitute the backbone of the project. Imaging techniques ranging from high-resolution microscopy to whole body positron emission tomography are integral to the project. Cellular components of tissues and molecular processes at the scale of a  millionth of a millimeter, as well as tissue and organ structure and function will be visualized and thereby better understood. This 'multiscale imaging' goal  is the origin of MIC's name.

MIC scientists will not only investigate molecular processes within individual cells, but also events in the whole organism. One example is immune cells, where both internal biochemical processes  and concerning a cell's behaviour within the body are of interest, including migration and penetration of  barriers such as the blood-brain barrier. Studying these processes will help to decipher the bigger view of, for example, the role of immune cells in diseases like atherosclerosis and multiple sclerosis.

'Our long standing successful cooperations between the different disciplines will now be united under one roof', says a well-pleased Prof. Michael Schäfers, spokesman of MIC and Co-Coordinator of the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence. Together with the two other cluster coordinators, Prof. Volker Gerke and Prof. Lydia Sorokin, he is primarily involved in the conceptual design of MIC. The shared use of imaging equipment and the broad expertise of the different research groups is a central theme in MIC. So far, cooperation has been hampered as the scientists are scattered over a number of different buildings throughout the city.

This year the Science Council has recommended establishment of  nine new research buildings in total, two of which are in North Rhine-Westphalia. Besides the WWU, the University of Aachen shall also receive grants for a new building.

The MIC: facts and figures

  • approximately 7800 square metres floor space (almost 3000 square metres of laboratories)
  • 320 staff members overall, 260 scientists (partly already existing work groups, partly new groups, among which are the new professors of the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence)
  • connection to the CiM-IMPRS Graduate School of the Cluster of Excellence and the Max Planck Institute; some of the approximately 100 graduate students will be housed in MIC