The CyGenTiG team at the University of Düsseldorf

The Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf is currently home to almost 24,000 students, 260 professors and more than 6,000 academic and non-academic staff members. Degree programs at the University of Düsseldorf have repeatedly been ranked among the best in Germany in theannual CHE ranking. The excellence of the research is visible in its Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences (CEPLAS) and numerous Collaborative Research Centres(CRCs), Research Units, Research Training Groups (RTGs) and Graduate Schools across the disciplines. Currently, the University of Düsseldorf is as partner or coordinator involved in 49 ongoing projects from FP7 and Horizon 2020, among them 4 prestigious ERC Grants and 13 Marie Curie projects. The University of Düsseldorf has a long and successful tradition of inventions, patent applications and technology transfer, and is one out of ten universities selected within the EXIST IV programme of the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology.

Matias Zurbriggen heads the Institute of Synthetic Biology  at the University of Düsseldorf. He has leading expertise in eukaryotic synthetic biology and has pioneered the development of optogenetics in mammalian and recently plant systems. Using an interdisciplinary and integrated approach, they develop tools and techniques for the design of synthetic signalling networks with novel functionalities within and across mammalian and plant cells, and in vivo. The group has established a robust and versatile platform for controlling and understanding cellular processes in mammalian and plant cells with light (gene expression, protein localization,kinase activity, etc.).

Kun Tang received her PhD in 2015 from Huazhong Agriculture University, China where she studied phycobilisome structure in Prof. Kai-Hong Zhao’s group. During this time (2013-2015), she worked on cyanobacteriochrome photoreceptors in Prof. Wolfgang Gärtner’s group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Germany. After graduation, she returned to China and had a postdoc period at the Southern University of Science and Technology, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Zhi-yi Wei, where she focused on understanding the protein-mediated interaction and molecular machinery assembly in biological processes, especially in neuronal development and related diseases. Since October 2018, she joined the Institute of Synthetic Biology headed by Prof. Matias Zurbriggen in the University of Düsseldorf. In the CyGenTiG project, Kun is working on engineering, testing and optimization of optogenetic modules for use in stem cells and engineered kidneys.

Hannes M. Beyer received his PhD from the University of Freiburg, Germany, where he engineered plant photoreceptors to develop light-signal processing circuitry in mammalian cells and biohybrid materials. He then moved to the University of Helsinki for his post-doctoral studies where he focused on structure-guided engineering of protein-splicing enzymes and related phenomena for their use in synthetic biological and biotechnological applications. In 2020, he became a member of the Institute of Synthetic Biology in Düsseldorf implementing optogenetic methods and synthetic control circuits in advanced tissue systems.