The strategic alliance of the Rhine-Main Universities (RMU) submitted three draft proposals in the Excellence Strategy competition in collaboration with other partners: CoM2Life of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and Technical University of Darmstadt, ELEMENTS of Goethe University Frankfurt and Technical University of Darmstadt, and EMTHERA of Goethe University and Johannes Gutenberg University. As a result, each of the three universities in the alliance is substantially involved in the application process for two RMU cluster projects, demonstrating the high research strength and diversity of the RMU and, as a whole, of the Rhine-Main Science Region.
The CoM2Life scientists aim to revolutionize the field of soft biomaterials by integrating principles from living systems into synthetic materials. Their approach combines chemistry-centered biomaterials design and synthetic biology-centered design of regulatory circuits. This makes it possible to develop biomaterials that exhibit life-like properties, such as the sensing and processing of signals, and actuation based on the latter. The goal is to pave the way for breakthrough developments in medical research with long-term perspectives for the personalized treatment of patients. Examples include the development of feedback-controlled drug delivery devices for homeostatic regulation, tissue models that can replace animal testing, metabolic regulation systems for tumor immunotherapy, tissue repair, and the engineering of artificial organs. Experts from the field of communication studies participating in CoM2Life will work to improve trust in and understanding of this highly interdisciplinary research project and to develop strategies to address the prevalent risks of misinformation in the modern world.
In ELEMENTS scientists from the research fields of particle and nuclear physics as well as theoretical and practical astrophysics cooperate to research the origin of the heavy chemical elements, such as gold and platinum, in our universe. This means no less than facing a multitude of fundamental physical questions that have remained unanswered to this day. What are the properties of matter when subjected to extreme conditions? What can gravitational waves tell us about merging neutron stars? Under what microphysical conditions are elements formed? What do astronomical observations tell us about the synthesis of heavy elements?
To answer these questions, ELEMENTS engages in interdisciplinary research in four working areas. Each of them includes both theoreticians and practitioners from the respective research institutions. The work of ELEMENTS intends to provide a comprehensive picture of the formation of heavy elements, starting from microscopic scales such as those studied in experiments at the electron linear accelerator of the Technical University of Darmstadt, as far as the macroscopic level in the universe which can be reconstructed through simulations.
EMTHERA draws from interdisciplinary expertise in both fundamental and clinical research to face the major challenges to global health, as they were most recently uncovered by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This includes infectious, inflammatory, and immunological diseases with complex overarching patterns in the human body, which are still not well understood. The resulting lack of effective therapies often leads to the death of many patients. Leveraging recent successes in the utilization of mRNA-based drugs, a new era of proximity-inducing technologies, and advances in nanotechnology and computational applications EMTHERA seeks to remedy this. EMTHERA’s scientists want to use novel experimental tools to understand the biological mechanisms behind the diseases and define suitable therapeutic target structures in order to develop new strategies and classes of therapeutic agents for infections, inflammations, and impaired immune mechanisms. This will overcome existing barriers to holistic disease patterns and enable tailored treatments for an increasing number of patients with previously incurable diseases.