Welcome to the eilslabs

The eilslabs form a joint research group between the division "Theoretical Bioinformatics" at the German Cancer Research Center (dkfz) and the department Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology (IPMB) at Heidelberg University. The group is headed by Prof. Roland Eils.


Jasmin Dehnen and Frieda Anna Sorgenfrei from the igem 2015 team have written a short essay about the creation of Aptabodies in the Laborjournal.

Read more at http://www.laborjournal.de/rubric/methoden/methoden/v159.lasso (only in German!)


Copyright: iGEM Team Heidelberg 2015


Following the tremendous success in last years (2013, 2014), the Heidelberg iGEM team, which was supervised by Roland Eils and Barbara Di Ventura from the eilslabs, has again made it to the final of this year’s iGEM competition in Boston and received the second runner up prize of over 260 teams from all over the world. Furthermore the project, carried out by ten talented students from Heidelberg University, received the iGEMer’s Prize, nominated by the over 2700 participants of the Giant Jamboree held in Boston over the last weekend.
iGEM team 2015In this year’s project, the team focused on the usage of functional nucleic acids as tools for synthetic biology. Over the summer months, the team was able to develop a new approach using a “twin ribozyme” with which they were able to repair in vitro the mRNA of the CFTR gene, which is the cause of cystic fibrosis. This result could lead to new avenues of gene therapeutic treatment of this and other genetic diseases.
Furthermore, the team focused on the development of software tools for the design and development of aptamers, RNA or DNA molecules, which specifically bind to other molecules. Via the development of two software tools, the team was able to develop intelligent combinations of aptamers with RNA-enzymes to generate sensors for small molecules that have  a colorimetric readout. With this they could give a proof of concept for the fast and efficient detection of rape drugs in energy drinks. Finally, the team has developed a new aptamer-based method for fast and cheap detection of proteins on Western Blots without the need for antibodies.

For the iGEM Team Heidelberg 2015, we are looking for extremely motivated students that share our enthusiasm and passion for synthetic biology. As the projects usually consist of computational and experimental work, we aim at building a very interdisciplinary team, with students of disciplines such as molecular biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, chemistry, engineering, physics and informatics.

iGEM-2014-all-participants 650pxTraditionally, iGEM teams from Heidelberg work on a topic that is brought forward directly by the students. Therefore, team members go through an initial brainstorming phase to propose original and exciting projects to the supervisors/instructors. The most promising and best-suited project is selected and the actual work can start.

The iGEM Team Heidelberg is supervised by Prof. Dr. Roland Eils heading the eilslabs at DKFZ and Heidelberg University and Dr. Barbara Di Ventura, head of the synthetic biology research group in BioQuant within the eilslabs. Heidelberg University has performed exceptionally well since their first appearance in iGEM in 2008, being the first ever German team to win the Grand Prize in the Undergraduate Category in 2013 with their project “Philosopher’s Stone”. In 2014, the team successfully defended the title with their project “Ring of Fire” – for the first time ever in the history of iGEM.

The International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) is the most prestigious undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition taking place every year in Boston (USA). Student teams from universities all over the world work at their own schools using a standardized set of biological parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells. Projects are designed and executed by the students and supervised by renowned scientists working in synthetic biology.

Please submit your application by December 10, 2014 by email to Julia Ritzerfeld (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The application should contain a CV and motivation letter.

Downlad the announcement for iGEM 2015

Learn more about previous iGEM-Teams from Heidelberg



The iGEM Team Heidelberg 2014, supervised by Roland Eils and Barbara Di Ventura from the eilslabs, has won the Grand Prize of the iGEM competition (October 30 – November 3, 2014) in the undergraduate category. The team successfully defended their last year’s title against 245 teams from 32 countries all over the world. In addition, the team won three special prices - “Best Foundational Advance”, “Best Supporting Software” and the “iGEMer’s Price” elected by the 2.500 participants at the competition.

In their project “Ring of Fire”, the team developed a toolbox for the circularization of proteins using inteins to increase their thermostability and resistance against proteases. A circularized version of the methyltransferase DNMT1 could be used in a new PCR approach termed PCR 2.0 to transmit epigenetic marks during DNA amplification. In addition to the wet-lab work, the students developed two softwares to predict linker length and model the circularization process. Using a BOINC client, the team established the platform “iGEM@home” to use computing power from idle computers all over the world.

After the success of the iGEM Team Heidelberg 2013 with their project “Philosopher’s Stone”, which was the first German team to win the iGEM competition and this year’s success, Heidelberg is the first team ever to have successfully defended the iGEM Grand Prize in its 10-year history.

For more information, please visit:

      The iGEM Team Heidelberg 2014 and their supervisors with the BioBrick trophy.




This year’s iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine competition) student team from Heidelberg, supervised by Roland Eils and Barbara Di Ventura, has launched a collaborative platform where volunteers can offer their computing power to the participants of the iGEM competition to help them conduct novel computational approaches in synthetic biology.

The platform iGEM@home distributes computing tasks to volunteers all over the world: A special client, which can be downloaded on the project homepage, enables idle private computers to execute parts of highly complex and time-consuming computational tasks for iGEM teams and thus support synthetic biology projects of young scientists participating in the iGEM competition.

More information and the BOINC client are available on http://iGEMathome.org. In addition, the project ships a screensaver that displays interesting facts and information on Science, Synthetic Biology and iGEM.



2014jan diventura molbiosys graphical abstract 500pxAfter winning the Grand Prize at the prestigious iGEM competition at MIT at the end of last year, part of the work of the Heidelberg team has now been published in ”Molecular Biosystems”.

The students' project, supervised by eilslabs members Dominik Niopek, Barbara Di Ventura  and Roland Eils, focused on the engineering of non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) by means of domain swapping. NRPSs are mega-enzymes composed of modules - each, in turn, composed of domains -  incorporating a single amino acid into the peptide chain. NRPSs provide an alternative to the ribosomal peptide synthesis,offering the possibility to incorporate in the final peptide product a huge variety of monomers, among which non-proteinogenic amino acids.

In their recent publication, the iGEM team Heidelberg demonstrates that the domain responsible for carrying the activated amino acid (T domain) of the indigoidine-synthesizing NRPS module can be exchanged with heterologous domains from other organisms or with synthetic T domains. These findings open up the possibility to create tailor-made synthetic NRPSs to produce new bioactive peptides important for industrial as well as medical applications.

Beer, R., Herbst, K., Ignatiadis, N., Kats, I., Adlung, L., Meyer, H., Niopek, D., Christiansen, T., Georgi, F., Kurzawa, N., Meichsner, J., Rabe, S., Riedel, A., Sachs, J., Schessner, J., Schmidt, F., Walch, P., Niopek, K., Heinemann, T., Eils, R., & Di Ventura, B. (2014). Creating functional engineered variants of the single-module non-ribosomal peptide synthetase IndC by T domain exchange. MOLECULAR BIOSYSTEMS. doi: 10.1039/C3MB70594C

Further Information:
•        iGEM 2013 Heidelberg Wiki
•        iGEM@eilslabs


In Search of the Philosopher's Stone - Heidelberg Student Team Brings World Championship in Synthetic Biology to Germany

igem2013 heidelberg winnersUnder the guidance of Barbara Di Ventura, Roland Eils and Dominik Niopek from the eilslabs, the Heidelberg iGEM team has received the 2013 Grand Prize at the international iGEM competition at the MIT in Boston. The team has been searching nothing less than a philosopher's stone, ie a substance that can turn waste into gold, in the last months. After succesful qualification and winning the Best Poster Prize at the European Jamboree in Lyon in October, yesterday the project was awarded the main prize of the "Undergraduate" section and won first place in the category "Foundational Advance" for their vision to produce synthetic peptides by NRPS in E. coli.

Congratulations to all members of the team and thanks a lot to all sponsors of the team!

Further Information:

Biotechnologie.tv features a interview with Stephen Krämer, member of Heidelberg's successfull iGEM-Team 2009. The part on iGEM starts at ~ 2:50.




The German radio station SWR2 has brought a special feature on synthetic biology and iGEM entitled "When geneticists play Lego". It features statements from Roland Eils and members of the iGEM team Heidelberg.


iGEM Reagents

The team from Heidelberg was awarded the second place out of over 100 teams in the overall judgment during the “International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM)”.


Heidelberg Team iGEM 2009



Heidelberg iGem Team 2009: From James Bond to "SpyBricks"

iGEM Team HeidelbergiGEM Team from Heidelberg wins three Prizes plus Gold-Medal during iGEM-Jamboree at MIT in Boston for „Ecolicence to Kill“

Newcomers from Heidelberg get prizes for best Human Practice, best presentation and best poster as well as a Gold Medal.


Roland Eils, Victor Sourjik, Hauke Busch, and Jens Keienburg initiate first iGEM Team for Heidelberg

iGEM is the leading international competition on "Genetically Engineered Machines" in the up-coming field of synthetic biology. A team of undergraduate students is developing a biological device that is able to detect and to kill pathogens or tumor cells.