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Signaling Research for Kids

In a new children’s book, a Freiburg researcher explains the language of the cells to young readers

Freiburg, Mar 08, 2021

Signaling Research for Kids

Even children can learn something about biological signals. Photo: Julia Jellusova/private

A cell becomes a souvenir, a puzzle becomes skin, and passenger pigeons become signal substances: In her second children’s book on molecular biology, the immunologist Dr. Julia Jellusova explains everything about cells, from A as in antibody to Z as in zygote. After Entdecke dein Immunsystem (Discover your immune system), her new book Entdecke die Sprache der Zellen (Discover the language of the cells) now focuses on the signaling paths of the cell, their structure, and their functions. The book employs a lot of imagery, and illustrations by the author help the young readers to better understand the miniscule parts of the human organism. Jellusova is a researcher at Freiburg’s two Clusters of Excellence in the area of biological signaling, BIOSS and CIBSS, and also worked until recently at the University of Freiburg’s Faculty of Biology. This research also provided the background for the new book. In January 2021, she took up a position as professor for immune signaling at the Technical University of Munich’s Klinikum rechts der Isar.

What is DNA? How do cells make the heart beat? And how does a receptor work? Jellusova answers these and other questions about the cells of the human body. The book is appropriate for children aged six to ten and is also intended for use in biology classes. “I hope it helps children to discover a world that is full of exciting and wonderful surprises,” wishes the researcher: “I myself find biology terribly fascinating!”

In the Cluster of Excellence CIBSS – Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies, in which Jellusova has conducted research since 2019, scientists are working on the various topics that belong to the field of biological signaling research: Some are interested in the immune system, others in the development of particular model organisms or the functioning of plant roots. What all the researchers have in common, however, is that the cells they study speak the same language. “All cells, no matter whether they come from a mouse, a human, or a plant, have to receive signals, process them, and respond accordingly,” explains Jellusova.

These common principles of all cells are the object of detailed research in CIBSS. The goal of the Cluster of Excellence is to develop an integrative understanding of this language –across scales from molecules to organisms. Jellusova seeks to explain these principles of signaling research in her book: “If you know the language of the cells, it’s easier to understand how our body functions, how diseases can develop, or how medicines work.”


Jellusova, Julia (2021): Entdecke die Sprache der Zellen. Autumnus Verlag, Berlin.


Dr. Julia Jellusova
Institute of Biology III
Faculty of Biology
University of Freiburg
Tel.: +49(0)761/203-97663