Single-Molecule Methods
Our longest endeavors have been in the development of optical techniques to aid fundamental biological research, which is in need of quantitative methods to determine their key processes. In addition to new imaging technology that aims at higher resolution, strategies to determine dynamics of processes are of great importance. Our group has pioneered and applied several ultrasensitive spectroscopic techniques to analyze dynamics and interactions of biomolecules in living cells.

Cell and Membrane Biophysics
To study processes on cell membranes, and to elucidate the relationship between membrane proteins and the surrounding lipids, we devised cell-like model membrane systems mimicking the formation of membrane domains, whose cellular counterparts are potentially active, e.g., as recruitment platforms for signalling proteins. This is particularly attractive in light of the so called “raft hypothesis”, suggesting that local lipid order might be an important constituent in membrane protein recruitment and functionality. more

Synthetic Biology
So far, every biological cell has been derived from another biological cell - in nature as well in the laboratory. Until today, it has not been possible to build a living cell from single functional units, which may be attributed to the enormous complexity of molecules and modules in all known biological systems. Motivated by the success of reductionist approaches in the physical sciences, and their strive to derive models to describe natural phenomena from first principles, we are interested to explore the potential of these kinds of approaches in biology.


Signal Transduction
At all times, eukaryotic cells sample their environment for protein messengers that activate certain signalling pathways or deactivate others. Recognition and interpretation of such signals (signal transduction) therefore plays a central role for many cellular communication and differentiation processes that orchestrate the physiology of metazoan bodies. We are interested in the very early steps of signalling pathway activation. To gain quantitative insights, we employ modern microscopic fluorescence detection methods.


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