Aerial photo of the Weihenstephan campus
Modern life sciences on the traditional Weihenstephan campus.
Image: M. Obermeier/M. Folgmann / TUM
  • Campus news, Studies
  • Reading time: 4 MIN

Extensive modernization of the TUM School of Life SciencesTUM embarks on structural reform

Modernization of research areas, the alignment of teaching programs with future-ready competency profiles and an entrepreneurial management structure: The Technical University of Munich (TUM) has embarked on an extensive structural reform. With the restructuring of the TUM School of Life Sciences, TUM has established the first of seven schools with innovation-friendly governance structures.

It was exactly 20 years ago that TUM merged three departments to create a new institution, the Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan which was later known as the TUM School of Life Sciences. It integrated the fields of agriculture, forestry and food science, with their long-standing traditions, into the interdisciplinary area of life sciences. This structural reform became a widely emulated model in the scientific landscape. Now the Weihenstephan scientific campus is again leading the way. The restructured TUM School of Life Sciences goes into operation on October 1, 2020. It is the first of what will ultimately be seven schools in the university's new, innovation-friendly organizational structure.

With a holistic research and teaching approach, the new TUM School of Life Sciences will address the interconnected ecosystem comprising humans, animals, plants, soil and the climate. Subdivided into three departments, the school will capture innovation potential through the interdisciplinary cooperation of scientists. No longer separated by artificial boundaries based on different objects of study such as humans, animals or plants, they will engage in cooperative research on interdisciplinary questions and develop new methodologies.  

•    The Molecular Life Sciences department will explore biomolecular foundations from the molecule to the cell to entire organisms such as humans, animals and plants.   
•    The Life Science Engineering department will combine engineering with biological systems and food science, develop additive production processes using innovative biomaterials, and shape the digitalization of value chains.
•    The Life Science Systems department will investigate systems in the fields of forestry and agriculture, including ecological, societal and economic aspects, such as the causes and consequences of climate change.

"With this new structure, we want to make decisive contributions toward overcoming the most important challenges facing humanity, such as healthy nutrition for a growing global population, coping with the consequences of climate change, and promoting sustainable agriculture and natural resource management," says TUM President Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann.

Efficient governance and management structure

To ensure speed and efficiency in incorporating new and innovative fields into its research and teaching activities and the systematic development of interdisciplinary system competencies, the TUM School of Life Sciences will be headed by an innovation-friendly School Executive Board and supported by an International Advisory Board. And to facilitate the recruitment of the best minds in the world, a Faculty Search Committee will be tasked to identify outstanding scientists on an ongoing basis. Supportive management structures and efficient administrative structures at the school level will help to improve quality, speed up internal processes, and relieve researchers.

Competency profiles for future occupations

Through the TUM Center for Study and Teaching encompassing all of its schools, TUM will manage and pool the conceptual development of new and advanced professional profiles (TUM Professional Profiles) as the basis for developing programs of study. This will be flexibly adapted to the talents of the students and the changing needs and expectations of global employment markets. By breaking up the existing departmental structures, TUM aims to organize degree programs more efficiently and generate synergies extending beyond the boundaries. The changes will also facilitate the early integration of innovative technologies and mindsets that will yield benefits in the career world.

"What qualifications will be needed by the graduates of the future? When exploring that question, no avenues will be off-limits," says Prof. Thomas Becker, the Dean of the TUM School of Life Sciences. "In addition to opening up the best career opportunities for the highly motivated talents studying here, we want to give them the chance to work on the important questions for the future, none of which can be answered in just one field of study. At the interface of agricultural and life sciences, this concept is already being applied in our new Agricultural Biosciences masters program."

Leading technology centers

To ensure optimal backing for its research activities, the TUM School of Life Sciences will support talented scientists through professionally organized technology centers where skilled professionals will provide users with state-of-the-art technologies and scientific services. To build on the successes of the Bavarian Center for Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry, which was founded in 2015, planning is underway for a Plant Technology Center, an Animal Research Center, and a Food & Agro Center for Innovation & Technology.

Rollout of a far-reaching structural transformation

"Teaching and research programs narrowly aligned with individual fields of study can no longer keep pace to deliver the system competencies needed in the future. When accessing unexplored interdisciplinary territory, the efficient forging of cooperative alliances characterized by system integration is crucial to our success," says President Hofmann. With its TUM AGENDA 2030, TUM is therefore transforming its internal structure, moving away from departments based on narrowly defined subject areas and toward a matrix organization inspired by international role models. This will enable it to leverage the interactive potential harbored in larger schools and its Integrative Research Centers.

Following the restructuring of the TUM School of Life Sciences, the next step will be the establishment of the TUM School of Engineering and Design. It will bundle the competencies of the Department of Aerospace and Geodesy, the Department of Architecture, the Department of Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering, the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a part of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. It is to be established in 2021. "Breaking down the historical departmental structure is tantamount to a revolution in the German university system," says President Hofmann. "The TUM family is now setting out together on an exciting journey into the future."

Technical University of Munich

Corporate Communications Center

Article at

Christmas tree in the Vitruvius courtyard at the Munich main campus.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

As we come to the end of this challenging year, we would like to thank all members of our university for their hard work and dedication. We wish all employees, all supporters, all students and alumni happy holidays and a...

 President Thomas F. Hofmann discussed the planned university reform with Science Minister Bernd Sibler, moderated by student Silja Wöhrle.

“We’re working hard on the future”

In the first-ever online edition of its annual celebration, the TUM community looked back on the year to date. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in its...

To promote personal exchange with students, President Thomas F. Hofmann (left) established, among other things, the periodic Presidential Student Lunch.

“Together on the Pulse of the Future”

Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann has been President of TUM since the start of October 2019. In an interview, he spoke about his first year in office: How has he sought to intensify his personal exchange with the students and members...

3D-Abbildung von Pflanzenorganen, Mikroskopie liefert Bilder für Algorithmus

3D images display plant organs down to the smallest detail

Using artificial intelligence, researchers have developed a novel computer-based image processing method for plant sciences. The method enables the detailed 3D representation of all cells in various plant organs with...

Insects as food for farm animals

The start-up company FarmInsect has developed a technology to breed insect larvae as protein feed for farm animals. Founded by graduates of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the company plans to start a pilot plant...

Ausstellungstück auf der TUM Werkschau

Update Architecture: What will the new decade bring us?

How do we deal with the societal and ecological challenges facing us today? Are we "UpToDate"? Entitled "Update Architecture", the TUM Department of Architecture's digital annual exhibition will open on August 13. The...

Aerial view of the Weihenstephan Campus, where the new building will be errected.

EUR 40 million for new TUM institute

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is going to bundle its competencies for the development of innovative strategies for the prevention, combatting and prevention of the spread of resistant pathogens in humans and...

Prof. Jan Baumbach

Researchers develop software for drug repurposing

Currently, the corona pandemic is dominating the entire social life in Germany and in many other parts of the world. We are working flat out in order to better help the more than one hundred thousand seriously ill people in...

TUM is the only technical university to place among the winners in every round since the inception of the excellence competition in 2006.

TUM remains University of Excellence

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) has secured the title "University of Excellence" for the third time in succession. As announced today by Anja Karliczek, the Federal Minister for Education and Research, the...