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Introduction to BioDesign

+++ Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the TU Berlin Summer University will not take place on campus this year. Registrations for our Summer University Online program are now open! +++

Summer University Term 2: July 6th - July 17th, 2020

Course price: 950 Euros

22 hours of class per week, 3 ECTS credit points, max. 24 participants



Introduction to BioDesign offers students the opportunity to envision future applications of biotechnology. The course covers various interaction and design techniques for working with living media. Five most used design techniques will be explored in the context of bioluminescent bacteria and algae.

Moreover, students will learn, in a practical manner, how to culture these micro-organisms, and how to build tools that allow them to engage with the living organisms.

The course is mostly hands-on, i.e., it involves two practical sessions per week.

Learning Goals and Syllabus


Upon course completion students should be able to culture Photobacterium Ph. and P. fusiformis, and use it as living media in a product they design themselves. Students should have a working understanding of the biodesign process. Students will be familiar with how to approach micro-organisms, how to build tools needed to culture them, what safety measures need to be taken and how biodesign impacts the society and the environment. Each student will design and conceptualize based on living media, in order to innovate the future. 


Please click here to see the syllabus.

You may find the syllabus useful when discussing with your home University whether the ECTS credits attainable for this course are accepted by them.

Course components

The course consists of teaching, hands-on workshops and creative sessions. Each week will begin with theory (lectures), followed by a hands-on workshop and a creative session. The course will conclude with a vernissage/publication of the future pieces designed by the students.

The lectures will introduce the biological aspects of the target organisms (e.g., nutrients, metabolism, growth and reproduction), as well as various design techniques that enable interaction with the organisms through all five senses: visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, tactile.

During the workshops, the students will practice how to successfully grow living organisms and how to build bio-reactors and measuring tools for maintaining a living culture.

The creative sessions will engage the students in designing and conceptualizing based on living media. Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to visit biodesign project spaces and studios in Berlin to get inspired.


The general prerequisites of the TU Berlin Summer University are the following: at least one year of university experience + English level B2 or equivalent.

BioDesign course requires willingness to work in teams with mixed educational background, as well as openness to bounce ideas and receive feedback. Access to various craft supplies is a plus.


Prof. Dr. Mirela Alistar, University of Colorado, Boulder

Prof. Alistar made her PhD in computer engineering at the Technical University of Denmark and postdoc at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany. Working at the intersection of science and art, Mirela is passionate about re-connecting with the micro-world: the micro-organisms part of our being and our environment.

In her research, Mirela investigates the extent to which can we change healthcare to make it a personal process. So far, Mirela has built systems based on biochips to serve as personal laboratories: small portable devices that people can own and use to develop customized bio-protocols ("bio-apps").

Mirela’s work is published at top-tier journals and conferences (IEEE TCAD) and demonstrated at venues such as IEEE ESWeek and Molecular Communications. Mirela has served as guest editor for Current Biotechnology Journal (CBNT) and as reviewer for venues such as Applied Materials and Interfaces, TCAD, ToDAES, and NanoCom. In order to engage society in critical discourse on technology, Mirela has led and founded community wetlabs in Copenhagen and Berlin, where she organizes monthly workshops to promote personal biochips to enthusiasts of diverse backgrounds (e.g., engineering, art, design).

Please direct questions about the course to the TU Berlin Summer University Team at: . We will answer your questions and direct specific queries regarding course content to the course lecturers where necessary. 

Brochure & Poster Download

Check out our Brochure and Poster for Summer 2020!

Summer University Term 2: July 6th - July 17th, 2020

Course price: 950 Euros

22 hours of class per week, 3 ECTS credit points

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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Beth Sibly, Director
+49 30 4472 0230