Bio-inspired Communication Systems

Research at BCS is located at the interface between biology and electrical engineering and information technology. In interdisciplinary projects biologists, mathematicians and physicists work on understanding the principles of biomolecular systems and how to use them in modern technical systems.

Current Projects

Contextualizing biomolecular circuit models for synthetic biology

Synthetic biology is the bottom-up engineering of new molecular functionality inside a biological cell. Although it aims at a quantitative and compositional approach, most of today’s implementations of synthetic circuits are based on inefficient trial-and-error runs. This approach to circuit design does not scale well with circuit complexity and is against the basic paradigm of synthetic biology. This unsatisfactory state of affairs is partly due to the lack of the right computational methodology that can support the quantitative characterization of circuits and their significant context dependency, i.e. their change in behavior upon interactions with the host machinery and with other circuit elements.

CONSYN will contribute computational methodology to overcome the trial-and-error approach and to ultimately turn synthetic circuit design into a rational bottom-up process that heavily relies on computational analysis before any actual biomolecular implementation is considered.

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Collaborative Projects

With the launch of the Centre for Synthetic Biology, TU Darmstadt commits to synthetic biology as a key research focus. The interdisciplinary centre integrates expertise from the faculties of biology, chemistry and electrical engineering and information technology, material sciences and physics, mechanical engineering and social sciences.

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Projects and collaborations of the Centre’s members span basic research in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and applications as diverse as: teaching robots to learn to interact with the elderly, understanding social biases from text collections, developing AI algorithms that explain their decisions by design, capturing plant physiological intuitions by machines, understanding how students learn new concepts and solve problems, developing smart prostheses, detecting pedestrians from carbound video, identify global patterns of interest from social media use, predictive analysis of human attentional and visuomotor behavior, and extracting physical models from collective behavior.

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Started in 2020, the LOEWE center emergenCITY is researching resilient infrastructures of digital cities that can withstand crises and disasters. emergenCITY is organized as an interdisciplinary and multi-site cooperation led by Technische Universität Darmstadt, Universität Kassel, and Philipps-Universität Marburg as well as the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance and the City of Darmstadt. The center partners with several other institutions from academia, industry, and public administration.

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This EU funded project has the goal to collect, standardize and harmonize existing clinical knowledge and medical data and, with the help of artificial intelligence, create treatment models for patients. Armed with these treatment models, scientists will then test them on virtual patients to evaluate treatment efficacy and toxicity, thus improving both patient survival and their quality of life. To accomplish our goals, we have assembled an interdisciplinary team consisting of basic, translational, and clinical researchers—all amongst the leaders in their respective fields—and established strong relationships with European Centres of Excellence, patient organizations, and clinical trials focus on personalized medicine for our proposed case studies. In summary, iPC will address the critical need for personalized medicine for children with cancer, contribute to the digitalization of clinical workflows, and enable the Digital Single Market of the EU data infrastructure.

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MAKI creates an innovative premise for the communication systems of the future. Its aim is to be more adaptive to changes, particularly during ongoing operations. This could facilitate, for instance, the ability to stream video on a smartphone in high quality without interruptions in spite of busy or overloaded mobile networks. Users would be able to rely on steady and reliable reception even while attending festivals or crowded sporting events.

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The Centre for Cognitive Science successfully applied for the LOEWE Research Cluster “WhiteBox – explainable models for human and artificial intelligence”. The cluster will be funded four years with a total grant of 4.7 Mio EUR by the Hessian State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts. WhiteBox is joining the twin disciplines AI and Cognitive Science. January 2021, an interdisciplinary team of 9 PIs and their teams will start investigating the project's core questions: How can we better explain artificial and human intelligence?

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Previous Projects

The goal of CompuGene was to develop computer-aided processes to enable the design of complex genetic circuits in biological systems, with a highly interdisciplinary approach. The resulting implementation of biomolecular functions in cells, and their targeted usage, bears great scientific and economic potential. In order to make genetic circuits of higher complexity feasible, a novel scientific approach is required to replace current trial-and-error methods of synthetic biology.

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Goal of this EU-funded project was the development of a predictive computational technology that can exploit molecular and clinical data to improve the understanding of disease mechanism and to inform clinicians about optimized treatment strategies.

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Modelling and Manipulating the Phagocyte-Mycobacteria Interface. Tuberculosis is the most pervasive infectious disease worldwide, and recent emergence of drug-resistant strains emphasises the need for improved drug treatments. An integrated approach to dissect, model and ultimately manipulate the interactions between mycobacteria and their host is a promising innovative strategy to develop new anti-infective drugs.

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