Special Talk, Stuttgart

8920 1487145514

Motion, Communication and Computation in Synthetic Biological Systems

  • Datum: 15.02.2017
  • Uhrzeit: 14:00 - 15:15
  • Vortragender: Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Friedrich Simmel
  • Chair of Bioelectronics, TUM Department of Physics, Technical University of Munich
  • Ort: MPI IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3
  • Raum: Werner-Köster-Hörsaal 2R 4
  • Gastgeber: Dr. Metin Sitti, Professor (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA)

Abstract: Robotic systems are typically thought of as integrated combinations of sensors and actuators, which are controlled and coordinated by a computer. In recent years, researchers have begun to investigate the possible implementation of the basic robot functions – sensing, computing, acting - into molecular and cellular systems (hence, the terms “molecular” or “cellular robotics”). In this talk, an overview will be given of our recent activities along these lines, in which DNA and RNA are used as programmable components for such systems. On the molecular level, the so-called DNA origami technique has become a successful approaches for the assembly of nanoscale “machine parts”. We will describe the basic technique and the fabrication of nanoactuators from DNA origami structures. Even though there have been many attempts to implement autonomous molecular devices from DNA, they were all very limited in efficiency, processivity and speed. One way to overcome these limitations is to utilize a hybrid approach, in which DNA nanostructures are simply used as controllable actuators, which can be manipulated precisely using externally applied fields. We will demonstrate the first nanoscale “electric motor” based on this principle. A different approach towards small-scale robotic systems is based on the genetic engineering of (bacterial) cells. Cells already come with the necessary hardware for our desired functions – and they can be made to respond to specific environmental signals, communicate with each other, perform simple computations, produce molecules, move, etc. We will discuss some of our work on the implementation of artificial communication between bacteria and artificial cell-like systems, and we will further show that RNA regulatory mechanisms can be used efficiently for re-programming cellular behavior. The talk will end with a brief description of our on-going attempts to realize synthetic cellular systems based on soft materials (gels, vesicles, droplets) and also chip-based systems. Short Bio: Friedrich Simmel obtained a PhD in experimental physics at the LMU Munich in 1999 and pursued his post-doctoral studies at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, NJ from 2000 to 2002. He then returned to LMU as a DFG Emmy Noether fellow, specializing on biomolecular nanotechnology. Since 2007, he is a full professor of physics at the Technical University Munich in Garching (his Chair has just been renamed to “Physics of Synthetic Biological Systems”). He also is the co-Coordinator of the DFG Cluster of Excellence Nanosystems Initiative Munich (since 2011) and he is a member of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) since 2013. In 2016, he was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant.

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