Life Sciences Research Unit
More than a hundred years ago, biologists grasped that the cell could serve as a unifying principle for life. Since, there has been a revolution in the understanding of the organism. Driven primarily by the enormous progression in molecular biology, researchers in biology have learned immense amounts about the cell. Still, many questions about the communication between cells remain to be elucidated: how do cells divide? How do they die? Why are there so many apparently redundant component parts? How do signals get from the outside of a cell to the nucleus? How does the cell communicate its response to its neighbors? How can cell-to-cell signaling contribute to something as complex as the unfolding of an embryo?
Furthermore, numerous diseases with high societal impact (cancer, atherosclerosis, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases…) are linked, some partially, to a dysfunctional cell communication: for example, tumor cells no longer react to signals of their neighbors that would normally prevent a further cell division. Thus, a delineation of cellular communication and its underlying molecular mechanisms is important for the development of novel specific drugs that target cellular communication pathways.
In a bundled effort at the Life Sciences Research Unit, research teams assess the communication of cells thematically (cell migration/adhesion and inflammation) and mechanistically (signal transduction, bioinformatics and computational biology). Further, collaboration with computer scientists is strengthening the interdisciplinary research perspectives of the life sciences within the University of Luxembourg. These integrated approaches provide a more complete and interdisciplinary understanding of cellular and molecular responses observed during diseases and may lead to the discovery and recognition of new therapeutic targets.
Doctoral studies and link to in-house master degrees
More than 20 PhD, master (or equivalent) and medical students have already passed their theses in the different research groups. Within the UL, we established in 2008 a Master program in “Integrative Systems Biology" leading to a doctoral school. As bioinformatics/computational biology is one specialization track within the new MSc in “Information and Computer Sciences”, students will also be able to integrate the labos from the Life Science Research unit for their master thesis.