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In the thematic field “Systems Biology, Imaging and Structural Biology”, the graduate students work in highly interdisciplinary research groups and receive training in these cutting-edge technologies and insights into current research topics.

Bioinformatics and systems biology provide new perspectives to meet the challenges posed to health and the environment. Building on informatics infrastructures to organize and structure data and knowledge, bioinformatics provides the tools for the analysis and interpretation of complex data in the context of biological knowledge buried in the literature. Systems biology, in contrast, builds qualitative and quantitative models to provide a rational and structured framework over a wide range of biological scales from molecules to organisms. For the top-down view of cellular life to characterize changes underlying disease etiology, the development and application of bioimaging technologies provides invaluable information. Our courses provide an introduction into the basic principles underlying systems biology such as modeling and the application of advanced mathematical methods.

Biological and medical imaging focuses primarily on the development of new imaging technology for basic research, drug development and clinical uses. The Center is a pioneer in generating new non-invasive in vivo imaging techniques, used to investigate cellular, sub-cellular and genomic functions in humans and animals. These methods are intended to accelerate the acquisition of new biomedical insights and contributions to quantitative biology and systems biology. They also aim to enable more precise processes for diagnosing illnesses in hospitals in addition to more exact therapy planning and optimized monitoring.

Structural biology provides the structural basis for the molecular functions of biological macromolecules, i.e. by describing their three-dimensional structure, molecular interactions and conformational dynamics. This knowledge provides a basis for understanding molecular mechanisms of cellular pathways but is also a starting point for designing small-molecule inhibitors and rational drug design. Our courses will introduce the main techniques involved in structural biology technology (NMR, X-ray crystallography) including practical aspects of sample preparation for “non-experts” to support cross-disciplinary collaboration. The impact of structural biology for elucidating biological pathways and disease mechanisms will be illustrated by current examples from our research.

Further information

Quotation: Prof. Dr. Michael Sattler

"Current biomedical research requires a combination of specific expertise in advanced techniques with cross-disciplinary approaches and collaboration. HELENA provides these skills and fosters cross-disciplinary collaborations, thus enabling our students to reach new frontiers in biomedical research."


Prof. Dr. Michael Sattler
Helmholtz Zentrum München and TU München