Nine partners – the majority universities and research institutes from northern Germany – have joined forces to decipher exactly how viruses, bacteria and parasites attack their hosts at the atomic level with the help of DESY’s X-ray sources and other research methods. This will form the basis for the development of custom designed pharmaceuticals. Together with representatives of the CSSB partners, Hamburg’s science senator Dr. Dorothee Stapelfeldt, secretary of state in Lower Saxony’s science ministry Andrea Hoops and CSSB founding director Dr. Matthias Wilmanns today laid the foundation stone for the centre’s new research building.
Bridging basic research in physics and life sciences
“The CSSB bridges the gap between basic research in physics and the life sciences,” says Hamburg’s science senator Dr. Dorothee Stapelfeldt. “The CSSB is an additional building block in our plan to further establish Hamburg and the research campus Bahrenfeld as a leading international location for structural research and to develop existing cooperations.” “The foundation stone for the CSSB is a milestone on the way to united structural biology research in north Germany. The new interdisciplinary research centre brings together existing strengths, makes them visible and opens up new possibilities across state borders to do research in this important field,” emphasised Andrea Hoops, secretary of state in the ministry for science and culture in Lower Saxony.
Access to Desy’s unique light sources
In the CSSB biologists, chemists, medics, physicists and engineers will investigate the interplay between pathogenic organisms and their hosts. The scientists have access to the unique light sources at DESY which offer optimal conditions for structural biology research. With the use of “supermicroscopes” such as PETRA III and the future European XFEL, the researchers can investigate biological samples in various ways – from the structure analysis of single molecules to the real time representation of processes in living cells – and analyse the molecular basis of diseases with extremely high spatial and temporal resolution. By combining this with methods such as cryo-electron microscopy, CSSB offers unique research opportunities, for example the decoding of the interplay of proteins during infection processes. A typical research question could be how the malaria parasite enters the red blood cells – an extremely complex procedure involving a large number of proteins.
50 million euro investment
The CSSB was officially launched at the beginning of this year. From a total of eleven planned (junior) research groups, six have already been established. Their new joint research building was designed by the architects Hammes and Krause. The three storey laboratory and office building will offer around 11000 square metres of space for 180 scientists. The 2,800 square metres of lab space will be equipped with state-of-the-art instruments such as electron microscopes. Up to one fifth of the CSSB will be reserved for junior groups and guest researchers. The building is scheduled to be opened in about two years time. The investment costs of ca. 50 million Euros are divided between ca. 38 Million Euros for the building and 12 Million Euros for scientific equipment. The federal government covers 73 per cent of these costs, Hamburg 17 per cent, and Lower Saxony ten per cent.
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