JMU’s Life Sciences are anchored at the Faculty of Biology, the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy, and the Medical Faculty and cover a wide spectrum of biomedical and biological research.
A hallmark of JMU’s biomedical research is its multidisciplinarity including a close interaction between basic and clinical science that promotes early translation. Central topics of biomedical research are Infection and Immunity, Receptor research, Oncology, Neurosciences and Psychology, and Cardiovascular research. Close collaborations between the Faculties of Medicine, Biology, and Chemistry and Pharmacy with the University Hospital and non-university research institutions further strengthen the interdisciplinary research.
As early as in 1993, the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology (IMIB) and in 1994, the Research Center for Infectious Diseases (ZINF) and the Biocenter have been formed as the first of a number of impressive interdisciplinary research centers combining the expertise of scientists from different fields. For example, the Biocenter hosts 15 chairs: 10 chairs of the Faculty of Biology, four chairs of the Faculty of Medicine, and one chair of the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy are combined under one roof.
In 2002, the Rudolf-Virchow-Center for Experimental Biomedicine (RVZ) was established as an interdisciplinary research center by the DFG in a highly competitive process as one of three early predecessors of Clusters in the Excellence Initiative. Recently established partnerships with the Helmholtz Association and the Max Planck Society strengthen JMU’s biomedical research: in 2017, the Max Planck Research Group for Systems Immunology and the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) started operation.
JMU’s scientists working on molecular biophysics and networks and plant adaption made major contributions to the organization of metabolic networks, the biology of plant ion channels and phytosensorics and have a worldwide leading role in the field of photoreceptors and optogenetics. Specialized laboratories for molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, structural biology, and cell culture as well as the imaging core facility of the Biocenter provide state-of-the-art techniques and latest electron and super-resolution microscopy.
Environmental and organismic interactions is another main research topic in the Life Sciences. Here, fundamental ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that determine the traits of species as well as the consequences of climate change, habitat fragmentation, human land use, and the impact of invasive species on biodiversity and ecosystems are investigated. JMU operates well-equipped laboratories and field stations in different ecosystems, e.g. in the Steigerwald in Bavaria, the Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and the Comoé National Park in West Africa.
Moreover, Life Sciences at JMU benefit from the Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology (CCTB), which develops and applies new approaches for big data analysis, image processing, and mathematical modeling of complex biological processes.