Flagship InitiativeEngineering Molecular Systems

The Flagship Initiative Engineering Molecular Systems (Fl EMS) is part of the Excellence Strategy of Heidelberg University and brings together researchers from different institutes and faculties of the university as well as non-university research institutions. The aim of the Flagship Initiative is to develop new materials, methods, technologies, devices, and therapies at the molecular level using both natural and synthetically made components. This requires an alliance of disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, and medicine plus theoretical computations and simulations.

Engineering molecular systems is a new field of research that has the potential to make groundbreaking innovations that can broadly benefit society. The field includes synthetic biology, medicine, materials science, organic electronics, and new environmental technologies. Breakthroughs could come in the form of new types of carbon-based materials, molecular machines with a wide range of applications, including in regenerative medicine, vaccines, and cells with tumour-fighting properties. This research could likewise advance diagnostics, sensor technology, clean and renewable energies, and the development of new data processing algorithms.

A number of institutes of Heidelberg University as well non-university research institutions – among them the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research – are involved in the Flagship Initiative’s interdisciplinary work. The Flagship also strengthens the link between Fields of Focus I (Molecular Foundations of Life, Health, and Disease) and II (Patterns and Structures in Mathematics, Data, and the Material World), thereby fostering scientific exchange beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries within the university itself.