Festive opening of the Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences

New interdisciplinary research platform to bring together excellent researchers from the life sciences and the natural sciences

30 January 2024

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) recently inaugurated its new Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences (IQCB) in the presence of Clemens Hoch, the Minister of Science of Rhineland-Palatinate, and Professor Stefan Müller-Stach, JGU's Vice President for Research and Early Career Academics. The IQCB is an interdisciplinary research institute at the interface between the life sciences and neighboring disciplines including mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, and engineering, thus generating new opportunities for research by way of, for example, computer-aided analysis of large amounts of data, computer-based modeling, and machine learning. Founding and Executive Director of the IQCB is molecular biologist Professor Peter Baumann, holder of an eminent Humboldt Professorship at Mainz University. About 50 leading researchers of JGU are already collaborating in the IQCB, among them are theoretical evolutionary ecologist Professor Hanna Kokko and Professor Wolfram Ruf MD of the Mainz University Medical Center, both of whom have also been awarded Humboldt Professorships, Germany's best-endowed research award. "Interdisciplinary teamwork is essential in addressing the most fundamental challenges in the natural and life sciences," emphasized Professor Peter Baumann. "The IQCB provides the necessary wealth of expertise and skills to catalyze new approaches in research and to create a new competitive hub of knowledge and innovation in Mainz."

"Over the past 15 years, the life sciences at JGU have undergone remarkably dynamic growth – naming the spin-off BioNTech and its COVID-19 vaccine as one very successful example", said JGU Vice President Stefan Müller-Stach. "The IQCB gives a long-term perspective of scientific collaboration and exchange to the ReALity initiative, a Top-Level Research Area funded by the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Science and Health through its Research Initiative. Peter Baumann is also the speaker and a member of the Executive Board of ReALity, which is short for 'Resilience, Adaptation, and Longevity'. Within the IQCB, researchers from various fields and disciplines will be able to take advantage of the local synergies to find solutions to complex issues in the natural and life sciences." In order to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration, the IQCB will host seminars and workshops, set up research networks, and develop a new cross-disciplinary range of course offerings. In this way, the IQCB will make significant contributions to answering fundamental questions, such as how to ensure that humans remain healthy as they age.

"Science has to provide answers to major questions that are of core relevance to our society and offer opportunities for knowledge transfer to the benefit of the economy and people in general. After all, our society and science itself are facing serious challenges: health, digitalization, sustainability, and climate change are just a selection of the social issues for which we need sound scientific information. We must address these issues now because we are accountable for our environment and the living and working conditions of the future, particularly those of our children and children's children. All of us together – politicians, scientists, and citizens – bear the responsibility," stated Science Minister Clemens Hoch. The IQCB will indeed focus on these questions and pool cross-faculty research activities in the fields of computer-aided modeling, data mining, and machine learning at the interface of the life sciences with related natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science. Minister Hoch added that the state of Rhineland-Palatinate was proud of this development because it shows that continuous funding – for example through the Research Initiative, the Research Fund and other targeted financing – is having the desired effect of assisting the university to contribute to major social challenges with new projects and ideas.