New DFG-Project at Constructor University explores topology’s role in biological applications
Constructor University
New DFG-Project at Constructor University explores topology’s role in biological applications. (Source: Constructor University)

In a project supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Professor Dr. Hildegard Meyer-Ortmanns will investigate whether topological protection mechanisms, known from other contexts, also play a role in biological applications.

In mathematics, topology refers to the structure of connections between objects in an abstract space. Thus, topology characterizes how objects are connected. In physical applications, a nontrivial topology may be responsible for the stability of phenomena if they are rather insensitive to a number of different kind of perturbations. Well-known examples are from condensed-matter theory such as the quantum Hall effect.

In biology, networks of genes, cells, neurons, or entire organisms function very well and precisely, although the underlying biochemical reactions and the environment of such networks may fluctuate a lot. “This robustness is only partially understood”, says Meyer-Ortmanns. Therefore, the scientist tries to identify topological protection mechanisms also in biological applications. Topological mechanisms would provide an alternative to conventional explanations, which, so far, are often not satisfactory.

Different networks shall be analyzed with analytical and numerical methods in view of this goal. Insights from this fundamental research may serve to later generate artificial stable networks. DFG supports this project with 225.000 Euro for a period of two years along with a post-doc position.

Scientific contact:
Dr. Hildegard Meyer-Ortmanns | Professor of Physics | Tel.: +49 421 200-3221



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