Our ambition is to understand the emergence of life from non-living constituents from a biophysical perspective. That means that we are not concerned with the particular molecules of life and their chemical origins, but rather with the principles and functional modules that have to come together in a set of interacting units to yield emergence of life-like properties, such as self-replication and evolution. Our primary technical goal is the bottom-up engineering of a vesicle-based minimal cell that is able to autonomously divide. On this track, we have in the past years made several surprising findings about non-canonical functions of proteins of the bacterial divisome, and the potential of their re-engineering into simpler units, which make us optimistic that a minimal cell may be much less complex than one expects.
Born on January 25, 1968 in Sindelfingen near Stuttgart. Study of physics and philosophy in Stuttgart and Göttingen. PhD at Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry/University Braunschweig (1993), postdoctoral fellow at MPI for Biophysical Chemistry (1996-1997), postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (1997-1999), Junior Group Leader at MPI for Biophysical Chemistry (1999-2002), Full Professor of Biophysics at Dresden University of Technology (2002-2012). Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (since 2011).
Petra Schwille has been honored with numerous awards for her research including the Philip Morris Research Prize (2004) and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the DFG (2010).
For details of her research and recent publication, please visit HERE.
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