Agenda 2024

Sessions
Sessions
Topics
Topics (Speakers / Agenda 2022)
Date
(All times are CEST)
Date

At Curious2024 – Future Insight™ Conference you will engage our speakers and topics by attending a variety of sessions, including keynotes, workshops or short presentations. An additional highlight will be the awarding of the 2024 Future Insight™ Prize.

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 Stage 1
09:00
 — 09:30
Wednesday, July 10

Opening Ceremony & Welcome Message

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Chairman Future Insight e.V., Senior Vice President Innovation, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Chairman of the Executive Board and Family Board of E. Merck KG
Chair of the Executive Board and CEO Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Minister for Science and Health Rheinland-Pfalz
Mayor of Mainz
 Stage 1
09:30
 — 10:00
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Healthcare

The Dawn of lndividualized Cancer Medicine: How novel (bio)technologies revolutionize the treatment of cancer

The past decade has seen a significant shift from early targeted therapies to an era of personalized precision medicines, enhanced by a new generation of treatment approaches including immunotherapies, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), and T cell therapies. These, whether used alone or in combination, have the potential to redefine treatment efficacy. Moreover, the advent of therapeutic mRNA cancer vaccines signifies a move towards fully individualized treatment. These approaches are tailored to each patient’s individual tumor profile and aim to target a spectrum of unique cancer mutations. Complementing this, AI is accelerating and informing the discovery and development of novel medicines, supporting the path towards individualized cancer medicine.
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Professor of Translational Oncology and Immunology, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON), co-founder and CEO of BioNTech SE
 Stage 1
10:00
 — 10:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Energy

Materials as an enabling technology in getting to net-zero GHG Emissions

Throughout human history, materials such as metals, glass and ceramics, chemicals, plastics, and fertilizers and have enabled multiple industrial and agricultural revolutions that have profoundly transformed the world. However, the unintended consequence of these revolutions is that the greenhouse gas emissions are changing Earth’s climate. Most of our energy sources, industrial and agricultural chemicals and building materials and are fossil-fuel based or demand process heat. The challenges how to provide clean energy, water, air, food in a world of over 8 billion people and likely to grow to 11 billion by 2100 are formidable. I will discuss new material challenges needed to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions and a more sustainable and prosperous future.
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Stanford University, Nobel Prize in Physics 1997, Former U.S. Secretary of Energy
10:30
 — 11:00
Wednesday, July 10
Networking

Coffee Break

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 Dome 1
11:00
 — 13:00
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Research Excellence and Career Opportunities at Max Planck

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MPI for the Chemical Physics of Solids
Max Planck Institute for Software Systems
MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology
11:00
 — 12:30
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Microplastics Hackathon: Kickoff

Can you hack it? Join us at the Curious2024 Hackathon and use your scientific curiosity, working together in teams, to develop innovative solutions on the problem of microplastics in our environment. Seats are limited, please register now here – Confirmation emails will be sent if you are chosen to participate. The 2-day entrepreneurial event starts with a Kickoff session (July 10, 11:00-12:30, Networking Area) where the hackathon topic drops. Then, it’s a race to find a solution as teams participate in a brainstorming session (July 10, 15:00-17:00, Networking Area) to learn how to develop viable solutions and refine them and attend a session on How to Create an Effective Pitch (July 10, 18:15-18:45, Dome 1) to learn how to craft their pitch on day 1. Teams will pitch their solutions in front of a panel of judges on day 2 for cash prizes at the Pitch Presentation (July 11, 14:40-16:40, AMA Circle). A Networking Area will be open to teams during the event.
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EMD Millipore Corporation
EMD Millipore Corporation
 Stage 2
11:00
 — 11:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Life Science

DNA Mechanotechnology: Nucleic acids that sense and generate molecular forces enable fundamental research tools and new biomedical diagnostics

Modern machines, which are composed of force-generating motors, force sensors, and load-bearing structures, enabled the industrial revolution and are foundational to human civilization. Extreme miniaturization would enable machines that can manipulate molecules for applications in medicine, biological research, and material development. This was previously only a dream, but new synthetic methods to assemble and modify nucleic acids combined with single molecule force spectroscopy have propelled the emergence of a subfield that we call “DNA mechanotechnology”. In this talk, I will discuss my group’s efforts at using DNA mechanotechnology for new types of viral diagnostics and in biomedical applications.
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Emory University, Winner Merck Future Insight Prize 2023
 Dome 4
11:00
 — 12:15
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Decoding de novo drug design with generative methods

This workshop offers a hands-on experience for medicinal chemists to delve into the application of generative methods for rapidly building novel, synthesizable molecule sets using AI-powered AIDDISON™ drug discovery software. Please bring your laptops.
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EMD Biotech LLC
EMD Biotech LLC
 Dome 5
11:00
 — 13:00
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Work with pioneers | ATLAS PhD Program at BioNTech and TRON

Are you looking for exciting opportunities to pursue a PhD at the interface of academia and industry? Would you like to work on a PhD project that is committed to improving the health of people worldwide? Are you thrilled about research in tumor biology and immunotherapy or can’t get enough of bioinformatics topics? Then join our workshop to learn about the ATLAS PhD program.
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BioNTech SE
TRON gGmbH
 Dome 2
11:00
 — 12:30
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Inside Nature portfolio: Editorial process and innovations

Why do editors exist? What does it mean to be a professional editor? What is the significance of innovation and how is it linked to science publishing? How do editors make decisions? Since its launch in 1869, Nature has seen its mission as two-fold: facilitating the prompt communication of the most important scientific developments to the relevant research communities, while at the same time fostering a greater appreciation of these works amongst the wider public. Although the publishing landscape for scientific research is currently undergoing a period of rapid change, these core principles remain largely unchanged. In this workshop professional editors from the Nature portfolio will draw a clear big picture of the whole family of Nature-branded titles, unfolding the behind the scenes of the editorial process and delving into the intricate decision making process that defines the difference between different journals. They will also unveil, with anecdotes and real-life examples, some hidden insights to navigate the landscape of science publishing and exploring innovative solutions towards a more transparent peer-review, including the integration of early career researchers in peer reviewing, the handling of multidisciplinary research, and the open data initiatives that can bring real advantages to researchers and science.
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Springer Nature
Springer Nature
Springer Nature
 Dome 3
11:00
 — 12:00
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: The Power of a Strong Personal Brand

Join us to explore the impact of your external and internal personal brand, leveraging social media, and using tools like myGPT to build your brand. Discover how to authentically communicate your expertise, connect with peers, and advance your career. Uncover the strategies for harnessing the power of your personal brand in the digital age. Don’t miss this opportunity to shape your professional identity and stand out in your field.
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Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
 Stage 1
11:00
 — 11:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote

Sustainable Chemistry: Solving the pressing challenges of our time at scale

The chemical industry is uniquely positioned to solve the green transformation challenge. While the birthplace of innovation is the laboratory, bridging the gap between laboratory invention and large-scale application is crucial to tackle this challenge. In my keynote presentation, I will illustrate how we speed and scale up sustainable innovations, such as membranes for green hydrogen production, polyurethane recycling, new classes of biosurfactants, and biotechnological CO2 activation.
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CIO Evonik Operations GmbH
 Stage 2
11:30
 — 12:00
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Healthcare

Materials talking to cells

We imagine reprogramming cells, the smallest units of life, by using synthetic molecules to create functional nanostructures in the cellular environment that can specifically influence or even improve cellular function. Could we teach molecules to recognise cancer cells and form nanostructures that prevent them from cell respiration? Could synthetic nanostructures interact with the cytoskeleton of T cells to change their shape and activate them? Cell therapy has already shown enormous therapeutic breakthroughs. The modification of living cells using intelligent molecular systems could make it possible to equip cells with entirely new structures and functions.
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Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research
 Stage 1
11:30
 — 12:00
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Digitalization

Shaping transformation together – How Basic research and Chemical industry can ignite and foster Transformation

In times of multiple crises which are parallelly ongoing and thus challenging economies and even democracies, it is crucial to continue and foster fact-based discussions and collaborations. Looking at current challenges posed by the climate crisis, this presentation shows how cooperation-based transformation is driven at BASF. Today still being among the top fossil-based energy consumers and CO2 emitters, BASF builds on R&D and partnerships to reduce their carbon footprint to net zero by 2050 and switch to a circular economy.
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Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE
 Stage 2
12:00
 — 12:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Digitalization

Synthesizing biological intelligence: Promises, challenges, & opportunities

How to create a generally intelligent system? Recently, we embodied biological neurons in a real-time closed-loop system to simulate the classic arcade game, ‘Pong’ and determine if the simple neural systems could learn. Interestingly the learning rates were faster than machine learning and networks showed rapid reorganization that inform us about how brains process information. Moreover, preliminary work supports that this approach provides information previously inaccessible to help improve drug discovery and preclinical pharmacological testing. The data provides compelling insights into the potential value of these systems for wider applications, along with understandings on how to improve this technology further.
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Cortical Labs Pte Ltd
 Stage 1
12:00
 — 12:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Bright Future

Bridging the gap: Preclinical research in mental health

Mental disorders are a significant cause of disability worldwide. They profoundly affect individuals’ well-being and impose a substantial financial burden on societies. However, despite decades of extensive research, the effectiveness of current therapeutics for mental disorders is often not satisfactory or well tolerated. Moreover, most novel therapeutic candidates fail in clinical testing, which also brings into question the effectiveness of using animal models in preclinical studies. In this lecture I will present a paradigm shift in the methodologies used to measure animal behavior in laboratory settings.
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President of the Weizmann Institute of Science
 AMA Circle
12:20
 — 12:40
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Digitalization

Europeans in Space

A general introduction to the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt (ESOC), its recent mission highlights, cutting-edge ground systems and future activities. He will also address his long and unique career as one of the astronauts with the longest total times in space worldwide.
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European Space Agency
 Stage 1
12:30
 — 13:00
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Digitalization

The future of science, the Max Planck way

For over 75 years, the aim of the Max Planck Society has been to deliver excellent research by providing researchers with trust, generous long-term funding, and support infrastructure. Over the next years, we will continue our mission, open new research fields, and expand our efforts to provide optimal support for the best scientists at all career stages. In my presentation, I will illustrate our approach with the use of examples from different research fields. I will also explain how, in a complex and quickly changing world, scientists can continue to collaborate and build bridges between people. Finally, I will illustrate how basic science can lead to application and contribute to tackling global challenges – and how it can help in the ongoing transformation towards a sustainably future.
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President Max-Planck-Society
 Stage 2
12:30
 — 12:45
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Digitalization

h_da/EUt+ striving for a new type of University

The European University of Technology (EUt+) is a consortium consisting of Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (h_da) and eight other partners from all over Europe, which are among the leading technical, research-intensive universities of applied sciences. EUt+ is committed to offer common European degree programs, promote transnational mobility as well as democratic, civic values and critical thinking for the benefit of our societies. As pioneer EUt+ strives to establish a transnational institution, one European University with campuses from Western to Eastern Europe. A focus will be on the research dimension on h_da and the potentials of a holistic cooperation of EUt+.
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President h_da
 AMA Circle
12:40
 — 13:00
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote

Space Debris and Zero Debris Charter

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European Space Agency
 Stage 2
12:45
 — 13:00
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote

Grand challenges for biomedical research

Biomedical research is facing an exciting period with a number of major challenges to be addressed. The following areas deserve special attention: (1) New strategies for early clinical proof of concept processes, (2) Transformation of health research and health care towards preventive medicine, (3) Full exploitation of innovative data management approaches towards AI-based precision medicine and prevention, (4) New era of biomedical engineering based on sensor technologies, smart materials, biotechnologies and AI. In his address, Prof. Dr. Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association, will highlight some of these major strategic challenges that need to be overcome: What are adequate institutional framework conditions to master these tasks? How can we explore the potential of cooperations between research, medicine and industry? What role do cutting edge technologies play? Examples for best practise?
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President Helmholtz Association
 AMA Circle
13:00
 — 13:20
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote

Space Weather and Vigil Mission

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European Space Agency
13:00
 — 14:00
Wednesday, July 10
Networking

Lunch Break, Poster Session, Workshops, Start-up Fair

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 Stage 1
14:00
 — 14:50
Wednesday, July 10
Awards

Winner 2024 Future Insight Prize

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Chair of the Executive Board and CEO Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Germany
Johns Hopkins University
 Stage 2
14:50
 — 15:00
Wednesday, July 10
Awards
 | Bright Future

Nature Science in Shorts Award

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Springer Nature
 Dome 3
15:00
 — 16:15
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: From new drugs to the next generation of semiconductor materials: Exploring synergies in the space of AI-assisted molecular design

AI-assisted virtual screening has become vital for the identification of new drug candidates. The use of generative AI tools for the discovery of new materials is rapidly picking up speed. This workshop is meant to bring together enthusiasts from both worlds to collaboratively explore synergies and exchange learnings across the space of leveraging AI to accelerate molecular discovery.
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Merck Electronics KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Merck Electronics KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
 Dome 2
15:00
 — 16:30
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Towards fair social computing

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Max Planck Institute for Software Systems
 Dome 1
15:00
 — 16:30
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Can we harness the placebo?

The placebo effect presents both a significant challenge and a promising opportunity for the medical world. While often viewed as a confounding factor in clinical trials, obscuring the true efficacy of treatments, it also holds potential as a powerful tool in medicine if properly understood and harnessed. This phenomenon, where patients experience real changes in their health after receiving a treatment with no therapeutic value, underscores the intricate relationship between mind and body, and the impact of expectation on health outcomes. Understanding the mechanisms behind the placebo effect is crucial for minimizing its confounding impact on drug development and for leveraging its beneficial aspects to enhance treatment outcomes. In the workshop, we will focus on the neuronal mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. Identifying these mechanisms not only aids in distinguishing effective drugs from placebo responses in trials but also opens avenues for integrating these insights into more effective patient care strategies. By focusing on how to identify and quantify the placebo effect, the scientific community can refine drug testing methodologies, improve the predictability of clinical trial outcomes, and potentially develop novel therapeutic approaches that incorporate the beneficial aspects of placebo responses.
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Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
 Stage 2
15:00
 — 15:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Healthcare

Developing living drugs against cancer: TCR-T cell therapies

(Preliminary Abstract) T cells, a type of white blood cells, have become one of the most potent weapon in our arsenal to fight cancer. At academia, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, scientist are moving to new frontiers to make T cells safer, more precise and more potent to make even large established solid tumor melt. At the forefront of this development are autologous and allogeneic CAR-T and TCR-T cell therapies as well as bispecific antibodies and T cell receptors. The first of these therapies are being marketed and more are following in clinical trials with the goal to deliver a meaningful impact on the lives of cancer patients.
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CEO of Immatics N.V.
 Dome 5
15:00
 — 16:30
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Scaling up individualized mRNA products for commercial production

We are committed to improving the health of people worldwide by developing immunotherapies utilizing the full potential of the immune system to fight cancer, infectious diseases, and other serious diseases. At BioNTech, we have a legacy of scientific innovation. As pioneers in the field of immunotherapies, we believe that science and innovation can make a difference for humankind. To help ensure that individualized immunotherapies are available to patients, pending regulatory authorization, we are expanding our in-house manufacturing capabilities. Supported by our deep knowledge on mRNA technology expertise and our AI capabilities, we believe we have the capability to scale up quickly. Our goal is to build a fully integrated, global immunotherapy company for individualized mRNA products. Our workshop provides snapshot into our new manufacturing facility. During the workshop, our experts will discuss the challenges of scaling up individualized products.
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 Stage 1
15:00
 — 16:30
Wednesday, July 10
AAAS/Science Roundtable
 | Bright Future, Vibrant Digital

AAAS/Science Panel Discussion: Innovative Technologies – Touring the horizon

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National Institute of Health
News Editor, AAAS/Science
York University
Lavoisier H2 Geoconsult
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
FBN Dummerstorf
National Institutes of Health (online participation)
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, German Center for Cardiovascular Research, Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) gGmbH
 AMA Circle
15:30
 — 17:27
Wednesday, July 10
Ignite Session

Ignite Session

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Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Curious2024 organization - AMA Moderator
Evonik Operations GmbH
Mimotype Technologies GmbH
Universität Würzburg
Merck Life Science KGaA
University of Lausanne
Institute of Psychology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Valink Therapeutics Ltd
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
 Stage 2
15:30
 — 16:00
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Life Reimagined

Molecular aging of intrinsically disordered proteins in neurodegenerative diseases

The talk will focus on molecular mechanisms that underlie the dysfunction of intrinsically disordered RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, FTD and Alzheimer’s disease. Of particular interest are the RBPs TDP-43 and FUS, which are genetically linked to ALS and form aberrant cytoplasmic aggregates in the degenerating brain regions. The talk will provide insights into recently discovered mechanisms that cause RBP mislocalization and aggregation, such as defects in nuclear import, phase separation and molecular aging into amyloids. It will also highlight interdisciplinary research conducted in the Collaborative Research Center SFB1551 on “Polymer concepts in cellular function”.
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Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and IMB Mainz
 Stage 2
 | Online
16:00
 — 16:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Healthcare

From nanotechnology to mRNA vaccines: How overcoming skepticism led to new medical treatments and ways to tackle a global health challenge

Advanced drug delivery systems are having an enormous impact on human health. We start by discussing our early research on developing the first controlled release systems for macromolecules and the isolation of angiogenesis inhibitors and how these led to numerous new therapies. This early research then led to new drug delivery technologies including nanoparticles and nanotechnology that are now being studied for use treating cancer, other illnesses and in vaccine delivery (including the Covid-19 vaccine). Finally, by combining mammalian cells, including stem cells, with synthetic polymers, new approaches for engineering tissues are being developed that may someday help in various diseases. These can also serve as a basis for tissues on a chip which can potentially reduce animal and human testing. Examples in the areas of cartilage, skin, blood vessels, GI tract and heart tissue are discussed.
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
16:30
 — 17:00
Wednesday, July 10
Networking

Coffee Break, Science in Shorts

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 Dome 5
17:00
 — 18:30
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Potentials of AI to transform precision medicine

We want to jointly explore how AI solutions in healthcare can be transferred from research into clinical application. To make this topic accessible, we will focus on a use case that powerfully demonstrates the potential of AI to improve diagnostics and is of great importance to oncology and the pharmaceutical industry: tissue analytics and AI-enabled digital pathology. Where are we currently regarding usage of AI in diagnostics? Is there a one-size-fits-all solution? What obstacles must be overcome? Is AI just a hype or will it transform pathology and diagnostics? How can the value for oncologists be maximized? Are we about to reinvent cancer care? Starting from these questions and from the impulses provided by leading experts, we cordially invite you to learn and discuss together with the panel and other workshop participants. Our panel of experts offers relevant perspectives from clinics, pharma, research, and technology.
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Institute Director, Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD
Roche Pharma Development Datascience
University Medical Center in Nijmegen
Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine MEVIS
Helios Health
Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS
 | Online
17:00
 — 18:30
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: Are science and technology becoming less disruptive?

Dial-in information in platform​
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University of Minnesota
 Dome 1
17:00
 — 18:00
Wednesday, July 10
Workshops

Workshop: SFB1552: Defects and defect engineering in soft matter

Defect engineering is an established approach in hard-matter science, most prominently for tailoring electronic, mechanical, and optical properties of semiconductors. By contrast, defect control in soft matter has not yet been largely explored. Whereas strategies to make and functionalize defect-free, well-defined polymeric and colloidal structures have attracted much attention in the past, attempts to classify, assess, and control defects in soft matter are scarce. The collaborative research center SFB 1552 intends to shift this paradigm. We first aim to understand the influence of defects on the structure, dynamics, and properties of polymeric, colloidal, and amphiphilic systems, and secondly we target at comprehensive strategies to control the defect formation and to gain control over the defect structure(s), concentration, and temporal evolution. This shall lead to the development of functional components for soft-matter-based devices in which defects are the actual function givers.
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Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
 Stage 1
17:00
 — 17:30
Wednesday, July 10
Keynote
 | Materials

Molecular confinement effects in self-assembled cages

Since our first report on a self-assembled coordination cage in 1995 (Nature, 1995, 378, 469), we and others have been developing the molecular confinement effects of the self-assembled cages. The cavities of our cages are extraordinarily large and are capable of binding neutral guests. Through molecular recognition, new properties, reactions, and functions have been created (Angew. Chem. Int . Ed. 2009, 48, 3418; Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn. 2021, 94, 2351). One of the recent topics in the course of our study is protein encapsulation in a self-assembled gigantic cage (Chem 2021, 7, 2672).
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