Upcoming International Conference on Molecular Systems Engineering
By: Isabelle Fol
Biological systems display properties that cannot be matched by synthetic approaches. Implementing the advances in life sciences into the design options of synthetic molecular systems is a major scientific challenge. To address this challenge, the International Conference on Molecular Systems Engineering (ICMSE) will bring together world leaders in the characterisation and engineering of complex chemical and biological systems.
The International Conference will highlight exciting strategies of assembling synthetic systems into molecular factories allowing the chemical modification and transport of molecular compounds.
NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering organises this conference and NCCR MSE Co-Director Professor Daniel Müller talks about the upcoming event:
The ICMSE is announced as "unique event in the emerging field of molecular systems engineering" – why unique?
Molecular Systems Engineering is a quickly developing new scientific discipline. Since we started in 2014, other initiatives in European countries started closely related initiatives. These are located in The Netherlands, Norway, Germany and the UK. In Germany professorships of molecular systems engineering have been advertised and scientific flagships of molecular systems engineering have been initiated. In Basel we will hold the first conference on Molecular Systems Engineering, which we expect to be held on a regular basis throughout Europe.
ICMSE is said to have the potential of leading to a long-term paradigm shift in molecular sciences – what are the major goals of the conference?
Engineering on a molecular scale is not new. However engineering of molecular systems, such as factories for biotechnology or for the control of cellular systems is new. The major goals of the conference is to introduce the new engineering principles - the engineering of molecular modules, the assembly of modules into functional systems, the assembly of systems into factories or the control of health - to the scientific world. These engineering principles give us potential to address existing and forthcoming problems of our society.
What will be the highlights of the conference?
Certainly, the scientific talks on Monday and Tuesday. Highlights will also be the Opening of the ICMSE 2017 on August 27 with a welcome address by Dr. Conradin Cramer, representing the City of Basel, the keynote talk with Ben L. Feringa and of course the premiere of "Klang der Moleküle - The sound of molecules”, a concert premiere with the argovia philharmonic. And on August 28 we have join with Roche for the keynote talk with Stefan W. Hell. And, of course, later our Conference Dinner.
Which scientific topics will be addressed at the conference?
The scientific program is divided into four modules: Modul 1 discusses functional molecular modules having a chemical or biological origin and which are fundamental to the assembly of molecular factories for the control of cellular systems. Modul 2 overviews how to guide principles of supramolecular chemistry that allow the assembly of molecular modules having chemical and biological origin. Modul 3 focusses on the integration of functional bio- and synthetic molecular modules into multifunctional synthetic systems. And finally, Modul 4 introduces various approaches use bio- and synthetic molecular modules and systems to guide cellular systems for health control.
What are the challenges in organising an event such as the ICMSE?
We are entering unknown territory: Molecular Systems Engineering is a relatively new field of research, and it is difficult to foresee the interest this conference will generate. Basically, to reach the interested conference audience, the principal investigators of the NCCR MSE are asked to use their network and attract participants. The topic is so wide and so many disciplines are involved and affected by our research - this includes all natural scientists, engineers and the medical sector, therefore it is simply impossible and would be very costly to advertise the conference throughout stakeholders active in these disciplines. So we rely on word of mouth. Otherwise, the challenges certainly are resources and the coordination of all the planned events during the conference, as there will be a total of close to 60 speakers, and hopefully 300 participants expected.