At the FMI we are dedicated to understanding the fundamental mechanisms of health and disease, with the aim of making discoveries that will lead to the development of new therapeutics. With original thinking, interdisciplinary collaborations and world class research facilities, our scientists are leading innovation in the fields of epigenetics, quantitative biology and neurobiology.


Epigenetics

How can the same genome give rise to a diversity of stable cell types? Epigenetics refers to processes that modulate the expression of a genotype into one or multiple distinct phenotypes. Molecularly, such modulation is mainly mediated by transcriptional and post-transcriptional modes of gene regulation.

The Epigenetics research groups at the FMI study basic principles of transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulation. We are particularly interested in understanding how such regulatory pathways specify and maintain cell identity, as well as influence cellular differentiation and reprogramming. To this end, we use numerous model systems including yeasts, worms, mice and mammalian cell lines. We develop and apply state-of-the-art approaches to characterize epigenetic regulation from single molecules to whole organisms.

We aim to understand how epigenetic mechanisms are involved in defining cell identity in order to exploit epigenetic regulators for regenerative medicine. Likewise, we strive to uncover how mutation or dysregulation of epigenetic regulators causes pathologies ranging from developmental disorders to cancer, neurological syndromes, and aging-related diseases. Gaining such insights is vital for developing novel concepts and approaches in disease treatment.

» FMI Epigenetics groups


Quantitative Biology

In a time where biological data is available not only in vast quantities, but in unprecedented quality, we have the unique opportunity to describe biological and biomedical phenomena quantitatively. The Quantitative Biology research groups at the FMI attempt to understand complex biological phenomena in basic principles of mathematics, physics and chemistry, with the aim to accurately model a given process and challenge it with predictable outcomes. While a quantitative approach to biology bridges all our research domains, we are making a unique attempt at the FMI to link these applications to human health.

The three topical subgroups within Quantitative Biology are: molecular machines and their complex genotype/phenotype relationships; cellular self-organizing systems; genome structure and function. Within these topics, we dissect the workings of macromolecular machines on the atomic level, extract quantitative information from high-information content live imaging, and use organoids, in vitro differentiation model systems and chemicogenetic approaches to introduce perturbations. We believe that a deeper understanding of cell and tissue physiology in quantitative terms will provide better parameters for diagnostics and serve as the basis of novel treatments for human disease.

» FMI Quantitative Biology groups


Neurobiology

How we think, perceive, react and enjoy life, all depend on complex signaling between the billions of neurons within the brain. This is made possible through brain circuits involving subpopulations of neurons and local contacts between their neuronal processes. The way neurons are embedded and communicate within these networks is shaped by development and learning. We believe that the key to understanding brain function lies in understanding these building blocks of the nervous system, the neuronal circuits.

The Neurobiology research groups at the FMI use cutting-edge technology and computational approaches to study the formation and function of neuronal circuits in different model systems. Using techniques to measure and manipulate neuronal activity, to reconstruct the anatomy, and to study the molecular fingerprints of neurons, they seek to understand how neuronal circuits develop and function, how they are maintained or remodeled by learning, and how they give rise to cognitive functions.

This research furthers understanding of how the nervous system functions both in healthy and diseased states. We envision that these insights will eventually help to treat psychiatric conditions and age-related degeneration of the nervous system such as dementia and Parkinson's.

» FMI Neurobiology groups