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Experimental Natural Sciences and Engineering

Schiller-Gruppe UIAS_FRIASFreiburg-Strasbourg Research Group "Bio-based nano-mechano responsive films: A new step towards soft-mechano-chemistry"

Prof. Pierre Schaaf (Université de Strasbourg); Dr. Stefan Schiller (University of Freiburg)

The development of chemo-mechano-responsive systems, systems that respond chemically to a mechanical stimulus, is an emerging field in chemistry. Most of the systems developed so far are based on affecting internal chemical bonds when molecules are put under a mechanical stress. Nature transforms a mechanical force into a chemical signal by using force induced conformational changes of proteins. The goal of the group in Strasbourg involved in this project is to develop chemo-mechano-responsive systems relying on this simple idea: developing systems which respond chemically to stretching by modifying their conformation. The focus of the group in Freiburg is centered around defined multifunctional molecules & complex renewable and resilient systems. The goal of this project is to develop a system which, by stretching a surface changes the interaction-strength between a surface immobilized receptor and its ligands. For this purpose we will design avidin monomer mutants. The mutations will allow to covalently anchor these proteins onto an elastomeric substrate and to weaken the avidin interaction with biotin upon stretching. This should allow enhancing the modulation of the avidin/biotin binding strength. This project should result in the first system where the ligand/receptor interaction can be modulated by force constituting a universal biointeraction platform for biosensing and tissue engineering.


HofmannCassel GruppeFreiburg-Strasbourg Joint Research Group: "Deep brain stimulation of the ventral midline thalamus to boost memory vividness over time"

Prof. Dr. Jean-Christophe Cassel (Université de Strasbourg); Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hofmann (University of Freiburg); Dr. Richard Pinnell (University of Freiburg)

The mammalian thalamus is involved in multiple functional neural circuits including consciousness, sleep and memory formation. Although usually linked to hippocampal damage, severe amnesia may also result from thalamic stroke or neurodegeneration.

Memory formation requires interaction between the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). However, there are no direct circuits returning to the hippocampus from the mPFC. Two nuclei of the ventral midline thalamus, the Nucleus rhombus and Nucleus reuniens, have direct reciprocal connections with both structures.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the thalamus, subthalamic nucleus and/or globus pallidus is an established treatment in Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and essential tremor. The extension of DBS to other neurological diseases, including depression, is currently under investigation with promising results.

This project will focus on the interplay between the ventral midline nuclei rhombus and reuniens and memory functions, which are dependent on connections to the hippocampus and mPFC. Our hypothesis is that the precision or/and vividness over time of recent memory traces will be differentially affected by DBS to the Nucleus rhombus/reuniens. We will also collect and analyze the cross-frequency coupling of brain wave oscillations. Knowledge gained from this study may provide a platform for recovery of function approaches in humans suffering amnesia as a consequence of e.g., stroke or neurodegenerative diseases.


Nagoya_Breit GruppeFreiburg-Nagoya Project Group "Multicomponent Supramolecular Catalysts for Sustainable Chemical Synthesis"

Prof. Bernhard Breit (Universität Freiburg); Prof. Takashi Ooi (Nagoya University); Prof. Kenichiro Itami (Nagoya University)

Chemistry in general and Organic Synthesis in particular is an enabling science, which is in many cases the basis for innovation and development in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry and beyond. The development of an environmentally benign, energy saving, sustainable and cost efficient new quality of organic synthesis is more acute than ever. Catalysis in organic synthesis can be an ideal solution to these problems. Hence, the development of ever more efficient and selective catalysts and catalytic reactions for important synthetic transformations in organic synthesis is at the forefront of molecular sciences and at the heart of this joint research project. Specifically new multicomponent supramolecular catalyst systems shall be developed which tackle so far unsolved reactivity and selectivitiy problems in organic synthesis in order to provide a more sustainable chemical synthesis. Based on this common research project the research groups of Profs. Ooi and Itami at Nagoya University and the group of Prof. Breit at Freiburg University will establish an exchange program for Master and PhD students, which are involved in this project. Additionally, an international symposium shall be organized that will bring together world-leading scientists in the field of multicomponent supramolecular catalyst systems. This collaboration will strengthen the ties between Nagoya University and the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg in particular between the departments of chemistry. Furthermore, it could become the basis for further joint academic projects such as e.g. the establishment of an international research training group cofunded by DFG and JSPS in the future.