External Events

Bioinspired Materials: Materials that Self-Assemble, Display Autonomy and Manipulate Immunity

7-12 June 2020, Les Diablerets, Switzerland


The emerging, interdisciplinary field of Bioinspired Materials focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of the synthesis, directed self-assembly, and hierarchical organization of naturally occurring materials, and uses this understanding to engineer new bioinspired artificial materials for diverse applications. In particular, recent advances in responsive materials and adaptive matter – that allow materials to sense and respond to diverse environments – suggest that it is a compelling time to bring together a diverse population of scientists and researchers to understand how to develop materials for sensing and response.

Themes of this meeting will include a) Protocells – synthetic cells that have the structural organization of real cells, but are made of novel synthetic components and can be designed to respond - secrete or crawl – in response to stimuli, for biological or non-biological purposes; b) Adaptive Matter – to make materials from biological components or inspired by biological components that can adapt and respond mechanically or chemically to environmental conditions; c) Self-Assembly – biological molecules and their derivatives have the unique ability to assemble in ordered hierarchies, and make assemblies of novel topology, organization and function; d) Designer immunity – recent developments have seen the novel design of materials that are inspired to direct immune responses, to understand the fundamental tenets of cell communication and how one can manipulate the immunity and protection. Examples include making synthetic antigen presenting cells or lymphoid organs.

PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Christoph Weder (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) is one of the Vice Chairs of this Gordon Research Conference and he will lead the keynote session on "Synthetic Cells". PlaMatSu PI Ullrich Steiner (Adolphe Merkle Institute, Switzerland) is one of the invited speakers and will take part in the session "Functional Bioinspired Assemblies".

Deadline for applications is 10 May 2020.

For further information, visit: https://www.grc.org/bioinspired-materials-conference/2020/

5th Bioinspired Materials 2020: International School and Conference on Biological Materials Science

16-19 March 2020, Irsee, Germany


The 5th Bioinspired Materials 2020 Conference on the design of functional materials and systems inspired by principles found in living nature invites submissions. The main aim is to establish an international and interdisciplinary forum for scientists from a variety of fields including biology, chemistry, materials science and engineering, physics and medicine to discuss current cutting-edge research and to identify future research directions in the field of bioinspired materials. Main topics include the formation of hierarchical structures and the properties of complex-shaped biological materials. The transfer of biological principles onto adaptive and autonomous functional materials and systems made of organic and/or inorganic components represents a further main area. Besides synthesis and formation, the conference topics also include research on the functional and mechanical materials properties, the interaction of bioinspired materials with living environments, e.g. tissues and organs, and applications related to medical aspects. A topical focus will also be covering biofabrication.

The concept of this conference with no parallel sessions allows all participants to attend every talk and provides an excellent platform for networking and scientific exchange.

The conference will feature a plenary lecture from PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Silvia Vignolini (University of Cambridge, UK) on "Colour Engineering: from nature to application".

Deadline for abstracts is 30 November 2019.

For further information, visit: https://bioinspired2020.dgm.de

Bioinspired Materials: From Understanding, Through Processing, to Replication

20-25 October 2019, Monte Verità, Switzerland


Nature produces a wide range of materials with fascinating properties that are often taken as a source of inspiration to produce new manmade materials with superior properties. This international conference focused on the fabrication and characterization of materials made by nature and featured examples that demonstrate how we can learn from nature to build bio-inspired materials. It aimed at providing a venue for bringing research on the characterization of natural materials and investigation of the mechanisms by which they are produced together with research performed on the fabrication of biomimetic materials.

The conference was opened on Sunday 20th October with an opening lecture given by one of PlaMatSu's Principal Investigators, Ullrich Steiner (Adolphe Merkle Institute, Fribourg, Switzerland). The conference was co-organised by PlaMatSu PI Silvia Vignolini (University of Cambridge, UK) alongside Esther Amstad (EPFL, CH), Eric Dufresne (ETH Zurich, CH) and Stephen Schrettl (Adolphe Merkle Institute, CH)

There were also a number of invited speakers, including PlaMatSu Principal Investigator Thomas Speck (University of Freiburg, Germany), alongisde Ingo Burgert (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Helmut Cölfen (University of Konstanz, Germany), Costantino Creton (ESPCI Paris, France), Laura De Laporte (DWI – Leibniz-Institut für Interaktive Materialien, Germany), Matthew J. Harrington (McGill University, Canada), Niels Holten-Andersen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA), Nicholas Kotov (University of Michigan, USA), Sarah Köster (Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany), Cecilia Leal (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA), Fiona Meldrum (University of Leeds, UK), Phillip B. Messersmith (UC Berkley, USA), Fiorenzo Omenetto (Tufts University, USA), Benjamin Palmer (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel), Alyssa Y. Stark (Villanova University, USA), Francesco Stellacci (EPFL, Switzerland), Alison Sweeney (Yale University, USA) and Bodo Wilts (Adolphe Merkle Institute, Switzerland).

The programme featured invited lectures, presentations by junior researchers, poster sessions and, most importantly, plenty of time between sessions and in the afternoons for interactions and inter-disciplinary discussions.