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TU/e invests 15 million in new complexity institute

Published on: 20 March, 2008

The TU/e is going to invest fifteen million euros in a new institute to be set up: the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS). This was decided on Thursday 20 March by the university administration. The ICMS will begin next month.

An artist impression of molecular selforganisation.

The institute will be set up by a group of highly renowned researchers from the TU/e, coming from various disciplines: professor Rutger van Santen, professor Bert Meijer (both were awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific distinction in the Netherlands), professor Mark Peletier and professor Jaap Schouten. They will conduct research into the exact action of molecular self-organization.

Ir. Sagitta Peters, the intended business manager of the ICMS, expects that in two years’ time there will be some five group leaders and a total of about twenty trainee research assistants and postdocs working for the institute. The annual budget will amount to two to two and a half million – exclusive of the investments in equipment, which come to some five million Euros for the first three years.

The contribution by the Eindhoven university administration is roughly one third of the total costs in view over a ten-year period. The rest of the money will have to come from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research or the Technology Foundation (NWO and STW) or from companies or European funds.

Self-organization at a molecular level is the distinguishing characteristic of life. The researchers hope to fathom its principles and mechanisms. They want to try and steer the self-organization, so that molecular factories will develop – the next generation of catalysts, photosynthetic systems and nanocontainers for biomedical applications. For this purpose the ICMS brings together scientists from mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics, who will be utilizing the vast possibilities of microtechnology and nanosciences.

The institute will have a video workshop. This will be the place where cells and other complex molecular systems must be visualized in a three-dimensional, moving form so as to gain a better insight into this matter. Another long-term wish is a ‘molecular systems assembly line’, which will be designed to make and analyze complex molecular systems.