The institute currently centers on the two focal areas Molecular Mechanisms of Biological Processes and Physiology and Systems Biology. While the first focusses on generating molecular understanding of enzymes and complex machineries, the second area aims at attaining understanding at the systems-level of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells at the systems level. Together they lay the foundation for the engineering of complex molecular and cellular systems, such as engineered, or even synthetic, cells. The overarching research goals are:
- To establish the minimal working principles of molecular systems driving specific biological functions in living cells;
- To understand the conditions and constraints under which these different biological systems (can) work together, including the quinary structure of the cell and the basic principles of spatio-temporal control;
- To engineer molecular systems for biotechnological or biomedical applications;
- To understand the physiology of microorganisms (bacteria, lower eukaryotes) at the systems level, including cellular homeostasis, biogenesis of proteins and organelles and host-microbe interactions.