The creation of artificial cell-like systems from inanimate components capable of mimicking the remarkable complexity of living cells remains a fundamental challenge of synthetic biology and Origin of Life research. Although there have been substantial advances towards the reconstitution of subsystems based on biological macromolecules, the recreation of the most fundamental aspects of life (such as autonomous growth, replication and adaptation through evolution and feedback-control) is still in its infancy.
Our research group will address these challenges with a bottom-up approach using reconstituted protein and nucleic acid components. Specifically, our research aims 1) to reconstitute fully customizable and replicable genetic systems for biomimetic cell-like automata, 2) to increase the autonomy and lifetime of such replicators by reconstituting and evolving genomically encoded biosynthetic pathways and mechanisms for feedback regulation of gene expression and 3) to observe and quantitatively describe genome evolution of such replicators under selective pressure using deep-sequencing approaches.
Answering the questions of how life emerged on Earth and whether life is also possible elsewhere in the universe, belongs to the most profound challenges in science. In particular the harsh conditions on early Earth or celestial objects makes the formation of complex biomolecules required for catalysis and information storage, which seem necessary for complex lifeforms, an intriguingly difficult task. We will try to further explore and expand on recent findings which showed that primitive biocatalysts such as short ribozymes do very well in extreme conditions including ice and other dehydrating conditions.
To achieve our goals, we will employ a variety of biochemical methods ranging from standard protein and nucleic acid production / purification to more demanding applications such as design, assembly, characterization and evolution of complex protein machineries and ribozymes.
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Location & approach
The campus of TU Dortmund University is located close to interstate junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dortmund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dortmund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dortmund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dortmund.
To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.
TU Dortmund University has its own train station ("Dortmund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dortmund main station ("Dortmund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.
You can also take the bus or subway train from Dortmund city to the university: From Dortmund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dortmund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dortmund main station to the stop "Dortmund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dortmund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dortmund Universität S".
The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dortmund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dortmund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dortmund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.
The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.
The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".