Novel renewable or smart materials that perform multiple tasks and consume fewer resources obtain their new functions and properties by synthetic macro-molecules. Biological function relates to the properties of the molecular machinery of single macromolecules such as proteins, and their interactions leading to collective behaviour. Their molecular deficiencies are related to malfunction and are often basis for diseases. The programme BioSoft investigates the physical laws which determine the properties of the synthetic and biological macro-molecules. The programme aims to engineer novel nanostructured functional materials and to develop knowledge-based strategies for disease therapy by means of application-orientated basic research in the fields of soft matter as well as molecular and cellular biophysics.
The programme combines three different scientific areas: the structure and dynamics of functional macromolecules and complexes, the characterization and directed manipulation of cell function, and the physical basis of disease. All three areas combine approaches and methods from chemistry, physics, simulation sciences, biophysics, structural biology, as well as molecular and cell biology. They differ in possible applications, namely chemical engineering, material science, bioengineering, and medicine.
Key issues of the programme are, for example: How does the interaction between many macro-molecules lead to structure formation, especially outside the equilibrium? How are proteins folded in their unique structure, and how does their biological function derive? Which mechanisms determine the reaction of cells to mechanical and electrical stimulation? How is information processed in biological cells and group of cells? These complex questions have to be answered by basic research today, in order to gain prospects for new technological developments. This can succeed only through close, overlapping collaboration between physicists, chemists and biologists.