Thematic Areas

The Faculty of Life Sciences reflects the breadth of disciplines dealing with life on Earth. Research focuses on Organismal Systems Biology, Functional Ecology, Botany and Biodiversity Research, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Nutritional Sciences.

Organismal Systems Biology

Organismal Systems Biology aims to explain how high-level properties of complex organisms arise from the interactions among their constituent parts. This common scientific goal is approached through the integrated study of temporal and structural organisation, of the dynamics of physiological, developmental, and evolutionary processes, and of the neuronal, mental, social, and environmental information flows in organismal systems.

The Centre for Organismal Systems Biology (COSB) unites seven departments devoted to research in organismal biology through the shared interest in understanding organisms as complex systems. It is involved in the  key research areas Cognition, Neuroscience and Behaviour and Evolution of Organismal Complexity.

Botany and Biodiversity

Botany and Biodiversity Research aims to understand biodiversity in all its ecological and evolutionary dimensions. By combining expertise from ecology, morphology, and evolutionary biology and by investigating plants, fungi, and animals, both research and teaching at the department is highly interdisciplinary. As biodiversity is currently threatened by human impacts on the biosphere, an important aspect of the department is also to develop and improve science-based rationales for management and conservation of biodiversity. 

The Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research is involved in the key research areas Climate Change Biology, Ecology and Biodiversity of Tropical Forests and Patterns and Processes in Plant Evolution and Ecology.

Functional Ecology

Fieldwork is essential for scientific education

Functional Ecology at the Faculty of Life Sciences is devoted to advancing ecological knowledge and educating students. Innovative fundamental research is conducted via various interdisciplinary research themes using state-of-the-art methodology ranging from molecular to ecosystem approaches. 

The Centre of Ecology unites three departments. It is involved in the key research areas Climate Change Biology, Microbial Ecology and Ecosystems and Symbioses.

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Young scientist, working in the lab

Pharmaceutical Sciences aim to identify and characterise new biologically active natural products and synthetic drugs. Furthermore they strive to understand their interactions with human targets on a molecular level using in silico, in vitro, and in vivo models. Based on this knowledge, new lead compounds and disease-relevant targets are investigated and delivery systems for pharmaceutical active ingredients are developed. Different aspects of this range of topics have been defined as key research areas, such as  Drug Discovery from Nature, Computational Life Sciences, and Nutrition-associated Molecular Mechanisms of Ageing. The Centre of Pharmaceutical Sciences unites four departments.

Nutritional Sciences

Measuring in the lab

Nutritional Sciences study the interaction between the organism and its nutrition. The focus is on molecular and cellular research with an orientation towards systems biology. Genomic, transcriptional, proteomic, and metabolic strategies are applied, thereby also contributing to the development of biomarkers for predicting long-term diseases and identifying gene variants involved in the development of nutrition-related phenotypic expressions. The Department of Nutritional Sciences also focuses on the effects of the human diet and other lifestyle factors on ageing processes, supported by animal and in vitro experiments via the key research area Nutrition-associated Molecular Mechanisms of Ageing.