Forever young - forever healthy?

There’s likely to be a fundamental difference between how a medical practicioner and an artist view genetic editing with CRISPR. But both perspectives reveal possible ways to shape life in nature. Science meets art: the Max Delbrück Center at the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2022 in Berlin.

Pandemics, climate crises and war make the fragility of life clearly tangible. At the same time, we are mobilizing unforseen forces to find new forms that make life - still - worth living. "still, LIFE IS LIFE" is therefore the title of the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2022. On the evening of 21 May 2022, from 18:00 to midnight, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) invites you to discuss the question of measuring and shaping life.  

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) is participating in the Salon Sophie Charlotte for the first time. On the first floor of the BBAW (Room 3) the Centre will be offering two perspectives on the possibilities that editing the genetic material with CRISPR opens up for us: that of the artist Emilia Tikka and that of the researcher and physician Simone Spuler.

ÆON – Trajectories of Longevity and CRISPR

Photo from the artwork ÆON

As artist in residence in the MDC labs, Emilia Tikka was able to experience and try out for herself what CRISPR can already do. Based on this experience in 2018, the Finnish artist has created a speculative scenario of a possible future with her work "ÆON - Trajectories of Longevity and CRISPR":  

A man, a woman. Two lovers. He is young, and he will stay that way. Thanks to CRISPR/dCas9. She, on the other hand, is growing old and has decided against eternal youth. And you? What would you do: inhale and choose immortality? Emilia Tikka would like to use ÆON to encourage reflection on a possible future. From 19:30 she will be joining salon guests to discuss, parts of her artwork that will be on display from 18:00.

Understanding and changing: The future of genome research

Simone Spuler

For patients with genetic muscle diseases, eternal youth is not the issue. Professor Simone Spuler wants to save them from the deterioration of their muscle tissue – or even repair it. For diseases previously considered incurable, there could at least be some relief thanks to stem cells and CRISPR/Cas9.

Simone Spuler conducts research at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center, a joint facility of the MDC and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin-Buch. The team lead by the physician cares for some 2000 patients in a university outpatient clinic. At the same time, Spuler heads the "Myology" research group, where she is laying the foundations for first therapeutic approaches.

She knows that gene therapies not only raise hopes, but also trigger fears. In her lecture starting at 21:00 she will therefore discuss the technical and ethical limits of her work and looks forward to sharing the views of the Salon guests.

Quiz: Snip, snip – the gene has gone

Are you familiar with genetic scissors? Have you followed the controversies surrounding this technology in recent years? With the quiz "Snip, snip – the gene has gone", MDC aims to test the ingenuity of Salon visitors. On ten quiz cards in our exhibition room, they can find out what CRISPR can already achieve, what is possible, and what is and remains in the realm of fantasy.

Zeit und Ort

Forever young - forever healthy?

21 May 2022, 18:00 to midnight at the Salon Sophie Charlotte 
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) 
Markgrafenstraße 38, 10117 Berlin 
First floor, room 3 

Registration here

Further information


Jana Schlütter 
Editor, Communication Department 
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) 

Phone: +49 30 9406-2121 or

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)


The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) is one of the world’s leading biomedical research institutions. Max Delbrück, a Berlin native, was a Nobel laureate and one of the founders of molecular biology. At the MDC’s locations in Berlin-Buch and Mitte, researchers from some 60 countries analyze the human system – investigating the biological foundations of life from its most elementary building blocks to systems-wide mechanisms. By understanding what regulates or disrupts the dynamic equilibrium in a cell, an organ, or the entire body, we can prevent diseases, diagnose them earlier, and stop their progression with tailored therapies. Patients should benefit as soon as possible from basic research discoveries. The MDC therefore supports spin-off creation and participates in collaborative networks. It works in close partnership with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the jointly run Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) at Charité, and the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). Founded in 1992, the MDC today employs 1,600 people and is funded 90 percent by the German federal government and 10 percent by the State of Berlin.