The research of life in general and its processes is of particular relevance, not only for science but for politics and society alike. The domain of the life sciences comprises a broad spectrum of crucial subject matter, ranging from basic biological research to applied biomedicine to more controversial fields such as genetic engineering and synthetic biology.
Creating algae, which very efficiently produce hydrogen from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide only, is one of the most promising branches of synthetic biology. The “Synthetic Biology” statement explains in detail the potential areas of application and addresses the opportunities, problems and possible dangers for this emerging branch of research.
Describing biological diversity is a core objective of taxonomic research. The loss of biodiversity is one of the most serious problems of modern society and it often involves the loss of species still completely unknown to science. As a result, the function of these species in the ecosystem remains undiscovered and any potential pharmaceutical benefits they may have had to offer is lost forever as well. Despite being one of the oldest branches of biological research, taxonomic research is at a crossroads today. The project “Challenges for taxonomic research in the age of ‘-omics’-technologies” aims to promote a useful combination of modern and classical methods of biological classification in research and training, as well as the application of taxonomy further afield in disciplines such as medical microbiology.
With special discussion formats and flow of information tailored to a target audience, the Leopoldina raises public awareness of sometimes controversial socially and politically important scientific topics. The academy endeavors to keep the government and the public informed about new research areas such as synthetic biology and to provide clear information on controversial subjects such as the use of animal testing in biomedical research. This often extends to giving critical but constructive advice to policymakers.
Life sciences in transition (2015) - Report on Tomorrow's Science