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Carl Zeiss Foundation Commits €12M for New Synthetic Genomics Research Institute

NEW YORK — Heidelberg University announced on Tuesday a commitment of €12 million ($13.0 million) from the Carl Zeiss Foundation to support the establishment of a new synthetic genomics research institute.

The planned Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung Center for Synthetic Genomics will comprise collaborators from Heidelberg University, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz across a variety of disciplines including biology, biochemistry, and bioengineering, as well as philosophy, law, genomics, immunology, epigenetics, virology, and data science.

Work at the center will focus on the design of synthetic DNA sequences with the aid of artificial intelligence-driven methods of analysis and modeling, which could lead to the development of new biologics and biomaterials.

"In our new center, we will pool the complementary expertise of the three strong research universities … in the life sciences, molecular systems engineering, and biomedical research," Michael Knop, deputy director of the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University, said in a statement. "That way, we intend to coordinate all the steps in synthetic genomics, from design and production right up to the application of synthetic genetic materials and organisms."

The center will also include researchers from the German Cancer Research Center and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, as well as external partners from academia and business.