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IRI Life Sciences

Decoding the mysteries of life

We combine experimental and theoretical questions from basic biomedical research

IRI Life Sciences links key areas of scientific research, crossing multiple scales from molecular and cell biology to whole organisms and populations. Our approach is to study complex biological systems using a close interplay between quantitative experiments and theory. This interdisciplinary approach aims to reveal underlying mechanistic principles in biology.

Our scientific vision is intentionally broad. Collectively, our work spans a vast range of scales in molecular biology, including single molecule analysis, nucleic acid-protein interactions, large molecular ensembles, signalling cascades and evolution.

Bridging spatial and temporal scales

Subject matters of scientific interest we work with, from molecules to whole populations, start with sizes from 1 nanometer

We are united by an interest in quantitative answers to questions of regulation: for example, of genes, cellular structures, host-pathogen interactions or the behaviour of cancer cells. The regulatory principles governing these different processes may be unique to each, but they may also have features in common. Cross-disciplinary dialogue will be essential to explore and define these principles and place them in a coherent theoretical framework.

As our institute is set up across institutions – Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Charité-Universitätsmedizin – collaboration is key at IRI Life Sciences. We provide the scientific interface between partners from different institutions.

Research Foci

How does heterogeneity impair health and disease?

Biological sytems are inherently heterogenous as molecular noise and environmental fluctuations lead to heterogeneous phenotypes even for genetically clonal systems.

How do cells react in space and time in response to its environment?

The regulation of gene expression is critical for an organism's development, growth and adaptation to the environment. Different mechanisms control the synthesis and decay of gene products in space and time and in response to stimuli.

How do cellular processes define form and function of the cell?

Cellular function and architecture are inherently linked. On the one hand, structure and form arise from the interaction of molecular components. On the other hand, structure is limited by physical constraints.