“Topical Programs” on host and microbe as well as cell dynamics and mathematical modelling

Two so-called “Topical Programs” in the research area of the Cells in Motion Interfaculty Centre recently received funding from the Rectorate of the University of Münster: In the “Münster Microbe Interaction Innovation” project, microbiologist Prof Dr Ulrich Dobrindt and cell biologist Prof Dr Ursula Rescher want to focus on the question of whether and how an interaction between host and microbe damages the host and how this can be used for innovative therapeutic strategies. To this end, they want to further expand collaboration between biomedicine, chemistry and pharmacy. One of the main aims of the project “Cell Dynamics and Mathematical Modelling” by mathematician Prof Dr Angela Stevens and cell biologist Prof Dr Erez Raz is to develop hypotheses for the functioning of biological systems via mathematical gedankenexperiments, thus further strengthening and deepening the exchange between experimental biology and mathematics.

The funding from the Rectorate will be used to finance workshops that bring together scientists in order to identify and differentiate promising research fields, sharpen the view for larger funding formats, and strengthen international cooperation. Supported by external reviewers, the University's Research Council selected eleven projects for funding, out of 22 proposals.

M2I2 – Münster Microbe Interaction Innovation

Ulrich Dobrindt and Ursula Rescher
© Tronquet

The interaction between the host and microbe is a complex phenomenon which is now investigated by an initiative from the fields of biomedicine and natural sciences in the Topical Program “M2I2 – Münster Microbe Interaction Innovation”. The project involves working groups from 16 institutes and clinics which will collaboratively investigate whether and how interaction between the host and microbes can harm the host, and how this knowledge can be used for developing innovative therapeutic strategies. This thematic focus is possible thanks to the close cooperation that exists between biologically oriented basic research and biomedical research activities in Münster. By more strongly integrating researchers from the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy, greater attention can be placed on therapeutic intervention and the application of preclinical models in the future. The initiative builds on the phi-Club, an interdisciplinary research network open to all who are interested in researching pathogen-host dynamics in Münster.

Cell Dynamics and Mathematical Modelling

Erez Raz and Angela Stevens
© Kleinrensing/Messerschmidt/Schmidtchen

The motion of cells, cell division, cell differentiation, and communication between cells rely strongly on biochemical signalling and biomechanics. Biomechanics and biochemical signalling are fundamental to the development of all embryos. Measurements and experiments in this context are naturally based on fundamental principles of physics, which means that mathematical gedankenexperiments are natural as well. In the new Topical Program “Cell Dynamics and Mathematical Modelling” the exchange between experimental biology and mathematics should be further strengthened. Biomechanical properties and dynamical changes of the shape of cells is closely connected to their specific cellular functions. Changes in cell shape are observed during the migration of cells in model organisms (e.g. Drosophila, zebrafish and mouse), processes that can be described mathematically and accordingly analysed theoretically. Importantly, this research line is relevant for cell dynamics in the context of pathological conditions such as wound healing, tumour growth and metastasis, which resemble morphogenetic events in normal embryonic development.

  • Prof Dr Angela Stevens (Institute for Applied Mathematics: Analysis and Numerics)
  • Prof Dr Erez Raz (Institute of Cell Biology)
  • Participating Faculties: Medicine, Mathematics and Computer Science, Biology