The main objective of the Profile Area "Structure and Dynamics of Life" is to discover the building blocks of living systems and how these building blocks dynamically remodel, move and interact in space and time. The building blocks of living systems range from single molecules to macromolecular complexes, organelles, cells, organs, and even whole organisms. To understand how a biological system, e.g. a cell, functions, it is not only essential to precisely dissect its structure, it is also necessary to understand how these structural elements evolve in a dynamic way at the spatiotemporal resolution of the system. Beyond understanding how a biological system functions "at equilibrium", another main goal of SDL is to identify the basic principles that allow this system to adapt to internal or external changes, such as stress or pathological conditions.
To address these questions, scientists need instruments and tools allowing them to study and interfere with biological systems at these very different spatiotemporal scales. For this reason, Goethe University maintains centers for nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy, as well as electron and optical microscopy. In addition, essential tools are specially built to induce light-driven processes. In this context, the genetic manipulation of organisms plays a crucial role to observe the diverse processes under physiological conditions.
Currently, main research themes in SDL include RNA-based processes, membrane and organelle dynamics, neuronal molecular and cellular architectures, cell-cell interactions, and light-driven processes, as well as their many interconnections.