Target Group and Topics

The Nachwuchsakademie „Engineered Living Materials“ targets scientists at early career stage, at the point where they have acquired research expertise in one particular field, and are about to initiate or just initiated a complimentary training as next career step.

The programme is designed for:

  • advanced doctoral researchers (last year of PhD thesis) and
  • postdocs having obtained their PhD within the past four years.

The Nachwuchsakademie targets the following profiles and project ideas:

  • Materials scientists willing to make materials and/or devices or to provide them with functionalities by incorporating engineered cells as temporal or permanent components
  • Biotechnologists ready to grow materials and/or devices outside of the biotechnology reactor, ideally at the application site, in a controlled and safe manner
  • Synthetic Biologists eager to adapt and apply genetic circuits to provide desired properties or functions to a tangible non-natural material or device (cell-free approaches are also included)
  • Bioinformaticians interested in modeling, simulating, or controlling the properties and functions of the resulting materials

The Nachwuchsakademie will provide them an opportunity to initiate an own research programme at the emerging field of ELMs, for which a rapidly increasing interest for qualified individuals in the academic and industrial job market is expected as consequence of the „biological transformation“ („Biologisierung“) of technology progesses.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of ELMs, we expect a diverse background of participants including materials sciences, synthetic biology, biophysics, or biotechnology.

Excluded topics

The following complementary topics are excluded from the Nachwuchsakademie, as they have grown established communities already and do not require the interdisciplinary approach behind this proposal. However, we foresee getting applicants from these fields willing to move into ELMs:

  • Biogenic synthesis of material precursors for subsequent processing as non-living materials.
  • Tissue engineering with the purpose of regenerative medicine or cell therapy constructs solely focused on growing, differentiating or delivering engineered cells (e.g. microbiome therapeutics).
  • Artificial muscles or neuronal networks.
  • Single cell devices (i.e. bacteriorobots or single cell biosensors), or the development of synthetic/minimal cells without integration into a material.