Integrated quantitative multiscale life sciences
A cooperation between Goethe University and Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies
The molecular base of life is a complex network of interactions and crosswise interferences at multiple levels. These layers range from atomistic behavior of individual components over cellular organizations and differentiations to interdependencies between organisms and environment. Moreover, the reactions at the second scale can result in a long-lasting influence on organismic behavior. To describe processes that cause life, many scientists dissect this complex meshwork of actions and reactions into defined processes. This still is a rational strategy as a detailed description is not possible while integrating all dimensions. Nevertheless, to understand life, the obtained information needs to be placed back into a larger context. Thus, the integration of quantitative information into multiscale considerations is the upcoming strategy to describe and finally understand life. It is precisely this strategy that IQbio aims to train PhD candidates and Postdocs in.
The greatest challenges in the life sciences today – and for Frankfurt in particular due to its extraordinarily strong presence in biology, microscopy, tomography and high-performance computing – is quantitative analysis of biological principles at different scales as well as the integration of experimental and computational/mathematical research. Such work is at the interface between multiple scientific disciplines, which, however, is required to describe biological processes in its entirety. It further requires the transition and translation of information between different scales, be it between nanometers and meters or femtoseconds and years. This requires a communication and an understanding between the different fields of science and life sciences. Further, one of the greatest hurdles for the application of computational methods in experimental biology is the difficulty to translate biological hypotheses into computational methods because experimentalists and modelers tend to use different ‘languages’ to describe their findings and methods.
For young researchers at the beginning of their career, IQbio aims to provide a platform to explore and perform interdisciplinary research. This starts with the exchange between PhD candidates and Postdocs and reaches up to collaborative research. We are aware that this aim is ambitious and requires the commitment of each of the IQbio members, but we foresee that the experience will strengthen the profile of each member of the GRADE Center and thus will boost career options, irrespective of whether it is within or outside the academic system.
The interdisciplinary GRADE Center IQbio encourages and supports PhD candidates and Postdocs in developing research questions and careers based on the current state of research. IQbio offers a forum and measures for early-stage researchers in the field of experimental and theoretical quantitative biology to develop their skills in an interdisciplinary environment. With a broad range of thematically and methodically focused measures, lectures and workshops, IQbio provides the opportunity to discuss and elaborate dissertation and habilitation projects with peers and with internationally renowned scholars. Furthermore, IQbio organizes an annual Alumni Day / Career Day, a tailored Summer School Program and an annual PhD Student and Postdoc Symposium. These events foster career planning and development and provide an opportunity to build up networks and to achieve highly esteemed debating and presenting competencies. The specific measures of IQbio are complemented by the program of GRADE.