Issue 2 | 2024

10. June 2024

Mechanobiology studies how cells can sense and respond to mechanical forces.  Together with two colleagues, HITS group leader Frauke Gräter wants to explore the space outside the cell, often filled with collagen, and uncover its signaling into the cell. The researchers will try to measure the effect of mechanoradicals on the integrity of the tissue and the well-being of the organism. For their research, they have received a Human Frontier Science Program Research Grant, with about $1.5 million USD funding.

Speaking of collagen: In the “Beyond the Limits” section, we introduce HITS postdoc Debora Monego from Brazil, who has been awarded one of the most prestigious fellowships in the life sciences for her research project on the evolution of collagen.

How software can enable research in evolutionary biology is shown in the “research” section. Alexandros Stamatakis and his Computational Molecular Evolution group have developed tools that were essential for a research project that analyzed the genomes of 363 bird species. The results of this work have been published in “Nature.”

About HITS

HITS, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, was established in 2010 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural, mathematical, and computer sciences. Major research directions include complex simulations across scales, making sense of data, and enabling science via computational research. Application areas range from molecular biology to astrophysics. An essential characteristic of the Institute is interdisciplinarity, implemented in numerous cross-group and cross-disciplinary projects. The base funding of HITS is provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.

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