New collaborative research centre strengthens Bayreuth’s degree programme “Biofabrication”
University of Bayreuth, Press Release No. 145/2017, 1 December 2017
Biofabrication is a future technology. In this field, living cells and tissue structures form the basis of materials that are opening up a new world of possibilities in biomedicine for efficient, yet gentle therapies. The master’s programme Biofabrication, which is one-of-a-kind in Germany to date, was launched in Summer Semester 2017. This English-taught degree programme’s close ties to research are now set to be strengthened by way of a transregional collaborative research centre (TRR-SFB) in which the Universities of Bayreuth, Erlangen-Nürnberg, and Würzburg (the lead institution) will be joining forces. The name of this TRR-SFB is “From the foundations of biofabrication to functional tissue models”, and it will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for an initial period of four years starting on 1 January 2018.
Bayreuth members of the new Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 225 “From the foundations of biofabrication to functional tissue models”: Junior-Prof. Dr. Gregor Lang, Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel, Dr. Sahar Salehi, Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Schmidt and the doctoral students Andreas Frank M.Sc. and Vanessa Wicklein M.Sc. Photo: Christian Wißler.
“Together with our partner universities, we hope to develop a competence centre ranging from basic research to tissue engineering that will soon earn a strong international reputation. Our master’s students will also benefit from this. It will give them the opportunity to become acquainted with state-of-the-art research and, for example, to write their master’s theses in the scope of a practice-oriented project,” explained Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel, who is coordinator of the master’s programme Biofabrication and also represents the University of Bayreuth in the new collaborative research centre. “Our graduates will thus have excellent career prospects – especially if they also pursue a doctorate – to shape exciting developments in biomedicine and medical technology,” said Prof. Scheibel, Chair of Biomaterials at the University of Bayreuth. Just a few months ago, his team, together with researchers from Erlangen, succeeded in laying the foundation for the artificial production of heart tissue. In the future, this research will also be supported in the scope of the new TRR-SFB. Other researchers at the University of Bayreuth who are involved in the collaborative research centre include Dr. Sahar Salehi (working with the Chair of Biomaterials towards a Habilitation), Dr. Stephan Gekle (Junior Professor of Simulation & Modelling of Biofluids), Dr. Gregor Lang (Junior Professor of Biopolymer Processing), and Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Schmidt (Chair of Macromolecular Chemistry I).
Automated 3D printing plays a central role in biofabrication. For this reason, there is currently a great demand for “organic inks” that ensure the survival of the cells and do not interfere with their desired behaviour in the printed material structures. “There are a number of questions that urgently need to be clarified in this research field alone – and master’s students in Bayreuth are already working towards finding answers,” said Prof. Scheibel. Other research topics that figure prominently in the new collaborative research centre include muscle regeneration and the establishment of tumour models to develop better cancer therapies.
A highly modern research infrastructure on Bayreuth’s campus
Bayreuth’s Key Lab “Adaptive Biomanufacturing” at the Bavarian Polymer Institute (BPI) was set up for all this research. It is here, for example, that a rapid-prototyping process is utilized to produce polymer structures into which living cells can be integrated during the forming stage. This research infrastructure will soon be developed further with the addition of a new microscopy technique: a “correlative microscopy unit” will connect a confocal light microscope, which for example makes the single living cells visible, with a scanning electron microscope, allowing these cells and their interactions with the surrounding polymer structures to be displayed in high resolution. A microtome integrated into this device enables – similar to computer tomography – highly precise insights into the make-up of the whole complex consisting of living cells and polymers. The correlative microscopy unit, valued at around 1.4 million euros, will be funded with a large instrument grant from the DFG. It will be available for research and teaching in the field of biofabrication starting in the spring of 2018, once the new Technology Alliance of Upper Franconia (TAO) Building is in operation.
Homepage of the University of Bayreuth’s degree programme Biofabrication:
The University of Würzburg’s press release on Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 225 “From the foundations of biofabrication to functional tissue models”:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel
Chair of Biomaterials
Faculty of Engineering Science (ING.)
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-7360
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30 / ZUV
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356