Research Group of Joachim Spatz
Cellular Biophysics: Bottom-Up Assembly of Synthetic Cells
Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg
The group of Joachim Spatz at MPI-MF has a long-term experience and world-wide reputation in cellular biophysics, synthetic biology, biomaterials, surface patterning and chemical functionalization with a focus on spatial and temporal control of the self-assembly of molecules, proteins and nanoparticles at interfaces, in cells and in cell patterns. The primary scientific goal of the group of Joachim Spatz is to develop technologies, based on physics, chemistry and materials science, for unraveling fundamental problems in cellular science, as well as to construct life-like materials. In this context, the department aims for a fundamental understanding of (i) specific topics related to the pathophysiology of cells and cell cohorts by analyzing and manipulating cells on the nanoscale. In particular, we shed light on scientific questions related to individual and collective cell migration, cellular interactions with the environment in association with immune responses, wound healing, tissue morphogenesis and tumor development; (ii) how to bottom-up assemble synthetic cell functions and materials, (iii) the role of growth factors in cellular mechanobiology, and (iv) the role of polysaccharides, in particular hyaluronan, of the extracellular matrix in regulating cell fate. All these projects benefit from the highly interdisciplinary nature of the Joachim Spatz group and the MPI of Medical Research, which provides expertise from various scientific directions.