Overcoming Disciplinary and Institutional Boundaries
The molecular life sciences are part of the outstanding research areas of Heidelberg University that enjoy high visibility both in Germany and abroad. In order to intensify collaborations within the University and with strong non-University institutions in Heidelberg, the “Heidelberg Molecular Life Sciences” (HMLS) initiative has been developed by Heidelberg University within the framework of the Future Concept. With this funding priority, the University establishes strategic networks within the molecular life sciences, overcoming the boundaries of the individual disciplines and institutions and making important contributions to modern biology and molecular medicine.
A Research Council has been established in order to serve as a cross-institutional platform that bundles and coordinates research developments in the life sciences and optimizes the flow of information between all parties. The council consists of representatives of all institutions involved in the Excellence Initiative: besides the University, these include the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPI-mF) and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). The Research Council also coordinates its activities closely with the "Cellular Networks" Cluster of Excellence and the "Hartmut Hoffmann-Berling International Graduate School of Molecular and Cellular Biology“, both of which were established under the Excellence Initiative. Other cross-institutional initiatives are the DKFZ-ZMBH-Alliance and the Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit.
The Research Council has established itself as an advisory board in the area of life sciences. By this, it supports the formation of technical institutions such as “CellNetworks Deep Sequencing Core Facility“ or „Metabolomics Core Facility“. Moreover it fosters the further development of existing technical institutions at Heidelberg by means of financial participation, by advising on equipment choices, coordinating technical portfolios of different institutions at Campus Heidelberg and enabling a better visibility for all researchers in Heidelberg. The Excellence Cluster CellNetworks has taken on the task to function as an information platform for those technical institutions.
The Research Council is also an important provider of new ideas for the development of concepts which strengthen the scientific location while taking into account the particular profiles of all three participating faculties and the partners DKFZ, EMBL and the Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research. Due to this, the Research Council has now taken on the tasks of the whole Field of Focus 1. For instance, the Council succeeded in underlining the particular importance of the Biochemistry/Chemical Biology for Heidelberg. Heidelberg University has decided to strengthen itself permanently within the area of Chemical Biology by means of the resources of the Excellence Initiative and started the new degree course “Biochemistry“ in winter semester 2012.
The development of the Heidelberg research site has been marked by the ideas of outstanding minds. This vital structural commitment is acknowledged by the presentation of the HMLS Investigator Award. So far, the initiators of the following projects have been awarded: the Cluster of Excellence CellNetworks, the DKFZ-ZMBH-Alliance, Microscopy development (a cooperation between the University and EMBL), the structural biology initiative ConStruct, the graduate school HBIGS and the Chemical Biology Initiative.
The high research productivity of the life sciences in Heidelberg is also reflected in the wide range of excellent talks and lectures at the member institutions. Announcing the lectures and events of all partner institutions, CellNetworks‘ website is appreciated as an important source of information and networking.