Research at IMPRS-LS

The IMPRS-LS offers its students the exciting opportunity to work in a stimulating research environment which is renowned world-wide for its cutting-edge research, progressive technologies and a wealth of well-resourced facilities. At the heart of our program are the research school’s faculty members, whose leadership and innovative projects provide our doctoral students with a supportive, albeit challenging, research environment. A first impression of the high quality of ongoing research projects may be gleaned from the list of selected publications below.

Research activities center around three distinct but well-connected research branches as outlined below. Our students and their supervisors strive to uncover molecular mechanisms regulating biological processes, analyze the resulting complex biological systems and decipher the intricate network of neural circuits leading to corresponding behavioral responses. To learn more about the research activities of our faculty members, please go to the listing Group Leader Profiles. You will be able to search the list for specific reserach topics that you find most interesting.


Molecular Mechanisms: From Atoms to Cells

Research E. ContiScientists of the research branch "Molecular Mechanisms" seek to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate and control biological processes. To gain in-depth mechanistic insights, a variety of different research strategies are employed that operate at distinct scales, ranging from atomic resolution of specific protein subunits to the functional analysis of large macromolecular complexes, that serve as molecular machines to regulate essential cellular processes. To decipher the structure of the molecules involved in complex biological processes, structural biologists use a combination of X-ray crystallography, NMR, Cryo-EM and single particle reconstruction. Imaging experts use a broad spectrum of ultra-modern imaging technologies, including super-resolution imaging, multi photon microscopy and single particle tracking to analyze protein-protein interactions and subcellular localization of protein components. Biochemical and biophysical approaches help shed light on the folding dynamics and biophysical properties of the specific proteins under investigation, whilst genetic screens allow the identification of novel functional components or residues that play an important role in a particular process. To learn more about the research activities in the research branch "Molecular Mechanisms: From Atoms to Cells" please visit the respective Group Leader Profiles.


Biological Systems: From Cells to Organisms

communicating_immune_cells_MeissnerScientists of the research branch "Biological Systems" seek to understand how the complex interplay between cellular components leads to a variety of biological responses, and how these responses affect the development and function of organs, the immune system and ultimately, entire organisms. Here, advanced approaches in systems biology are combined with approaches in biochemistry, genetics, cell biology and molecular medicine to investigate biological systems beyond the molecular mechanistic level. For example, researchers are trying to understand how the intricate interplay of various signaling pathways affects the regulation of specific genes, and how this results in complex expression patterns in a time and space dependent manner. Other researchers within this branch investigate how the immune system is regulated to induce an orchestrated response to fight pathogens and tumor cells, whilst simultaneously recognizing healthy tissue. Importantly, many of our scientists are also aiming to understand how derailed cellular systems can induce the onset of many diseases including cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders. A deeper insight into the cellular mechanisms, structures and regulatory processes therefore helps with our understanding of these diseases and thus with the development of new therapeutic strategies. To learn more about the research activities in the research branch "Biological Systems: From Cells to Organisms" please visit the respective Group Leader Profiles.


Circuit Neuroscience: From Synapses to Behavior

Neural_Circuits_BaierScientists of the research branch "Circuit Neuroscience" investigate the basic functions, structure and development of the brain and aim to understand how the central nervous system processes information and controls biological responses, ranging from the body's movements to complex behavioral adaptions to environmental cues.
The central nervous system enables us to think, remember, feel and plan. Yet how does such a system develop to master such complex tasks – often simultaneously - whilst retaining our individuality? The fundamental process of how a nerve cell finds its correct partner cell among millions of other cells is only partially understood. After all, only when the correct contact has been made will it be possible to move a certain muscle or to learn a certain piece of information. How are nerve cells connected within the neural circuits? How does the system function, from the molecular level up to the level of the synapses, the cells and the entire neuronal network?
To answer these challenging questions at the very boundaries of human knowledge, our scientists employ and further develop the latest techniques from the areas of genetics, molecular biology, computational biology and advanced imaging technologies. To learn more about the research activities in the research branch "Circuit Neuroscience: From Synapses to Behavior" please visit the respective Group Leader Profiles.