Biophysical Engineering of Life

Biophysical Engineering of Life

Max Planck Research Group, Group Leader: Kerstin Göpfrich

November 25, 2019

What is life and could it be different? Is it possible to build a living cell from scratch? While questions like these have fascinated mankind for centuries, it is exciting that science begins to develop tools to approach them. Bottom-up synthetic biology conventionally isolates and subsequently recombines biomolecules from cells. Instead of copying life, as we know it, our group tries to engineer cells featuring completely new ways of assembly, information propagation and replication. Thereby, it will be possible to probe boundary conditions of life and, from a practical point of view, to build biomedical interfaces between natural and synthetic cells.

Towards this goal, we are combining biophysical tools, including DNA origami, microfluidics, lipid vesicles and 3D printing with experimental methods, like confocal and high-speed microscopy, atomic force microscopy, cryo electron microscopy and computational approaches.

Currently, we work on the following projects (for the latest details see

  • DNA nanotechnology and DNA origami for synthetic cells
  • Symmetry breaking in synthetic cells
  • Mechanics of membrane-based compartments
  • 3D printing in and on synthetic cells (integrated into the excellence cluster 3D Matter Made to Order)
  • Information encoding and processing

Sounds interesting? We always welcome applications from motivated, talented and friendly new group members at all levels with a background in physics, chemistry, bioengineering or similar.

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