June 8, 2018

The Art of Theoretical Biology

Professor from Frankfurt shows the beauty of theoretical biology

In an exhibition of a different kind, Frankfurt bioinformatician Prof. Franziska Matthäus and the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) show that basic theoretical research does not only consist of series of numbers and formulae, but can also be beautiful. For the "Night of Science" on Friday, June 8. 2018, large-format works of art will decorate some buildings on the Riedberg campus of Goethe University.

Since 2016, Franziska Matthäus (Giersch Endowed Professor of Bioinformatics, FIAS, GU), Prof. Thomas Hillen (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada), and Dr. Sarah Harris (University of Leeds, Great Britain) have been collecting images from data analyses or model calculations in the field of theoretical biology. 

These pictures and their stories will soon be published in a book entitled "The Art of Theoretical Biology". Some highlights have already been selected for the Night of Science in Frankfurt and will be presented in a 6-week exhibition as banners at various locations on the campus.   

The most noticeable part of the collection can already be seen from the U-Bahn (subway) when visitors reach the university campus by public transport. The picture "The Ghost" by Franziska Matthäus, Damian Stichel and Kai Breuhahn, covers the entire north side of the lecture hall building with a size of 20 x 8 meters. The image was taken during a data analysis for an experiment on collectively migrating lung cancer cells. The streamlines shown here show for an area with approx. 5000 cells that the direction of movement and speed of the cells are coordinated over long distances. 

Visitors can read the scientific background to this and all other works of art on the exhibition's website (link below).

FIAS is an institute conducting basic theoretical research in the fields of brain research, life sciences, systemic risks, computer sciences and physics. Presenting these complex topics to the public in an understandable way is always a challenge. "In recent years, several concepts of science communication have been successfully implemented at FIAS and "The Art of Theoretical Biology" is setting a new highlight here. With her project Franziska Matthäus puts the artistic side of science in the foreground. This will certainly appeal to many people who at first can't imagine much in terms of theoretical research," explains Prof. Dr. Volker Lindenstruth, Chairman of FIAS.

Further information and contact:


Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies:

Franziska Matthäus: +49 69 798 47509; Matthaeus_at_fias.uni-frankfurt.de

Press contact:

Patricia Till: +49 69 798 47688; presse_at_fias.uni-frankfurt.de

Pictures and further information on the project can be found at the following link: 

more information

The Ghost
The Ghost by Franziska Matthäus, Damian Stichel and Kai Breuhahn shows streamlines of migrating lung cancer cells on the facade of the Otto Stern Center at Goethe University