Max Planck Institute for Medical Research

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Max Planck Institute for
Medical Research
Max Planck Institute for Medical Research
MPI for Medical Research
Category: research Institute
Carrier: Max Planck Society
Legal form of the carrier: Registered association
Seat of the wearer: Munich
Facility location: Heidelberg
Type of research: Basic research
Subjects: Natural sciences
Areas of expertise: Life sciences , life sciences
Basic funding: Federal government (50%), states (50%)
Management: Joachim Spatz (Managing Director)
Employee: about 250

The Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg is part of the Max Planck Society . Six Nobel Prize winners have worked at the institute since it was founded : Otto Fritz Meyerhof (physiology), Richard Kuhn (chemistry), Walther Bothe (physics), Rudolf Mößbauer (physics), Bert Sakmann (physiology) and Stefan W. Hell (chemistry). The facility emerged from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research founded in 1930 .


The 22nd Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society was founded in 1930 by Ludolf von Krehl as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWImF) in order to introduce methods of physics and chemistry into basic medical research . The departments for chemistry, physiology and biophysics concentrated on biophysical and chemical issues, in the tradition of natural product chemistry at the institute.

New developments in biology were taken into account in the 1960s with a department for molecular biology . At the end of the 1980s and during the 1990s, studies were also carried out on specific functions of muscle and nerve cells. New departments for Cell Physiology (1989–2008), Molecular Cell Research (1992–1999), Molecular Neurobiology (1995), Biomedical Optics (1999) and Biomolecular Mechanisms (2002) as well as the junior research groups Ion Channel Structure (1997–2003) and Developmental Genetics ( 1999–2005) founded.


The institute currently has four departments - Biomolecular Mechanisms, Chemical Biology, Cellular Biophysics and Optical Nanoscopy.

In the past few years the institute has experienced the greatest fundamental reorientation in its 90-year history. The central, new topic of research is to observe and manipulate the immensely complex dynamics of the interactions between macromolecules in living cells - healthy or diseased - in real time. The four departments at the institute contribute with their expertise in complementary areas: determining atomic structure (Ilme Schlichting), optical nanoscopy (Stefan Hell), design of new reporter molecules (Kai Johnsson), and cellular materials science and biophysics (Joachim Spatz). The aim is to develop new tools for biomedical research that will lead to new results, knowledge and medical advances. Research at the institute thus continues to pursue the idea of ​​the founder, Ludolf von Krehl: to promote medical research through close collaboration between physiologists, biologists, physicists and chemists under one roof.


Chemical biology

Life is based on the temporally and spatially orchestrated interplay of biomolecules. The majority of these processes have so far taken place in secret for us. The Chemical Biology department headed by Director Kai Johnsson is therefore developing methods for localizing and quantifying selected biomolecules in living cells. These methods contribute to a molecular understanding of cellular processes and are also used in biomedicine.

Biomolecular Mechanisms

Processes in living cells are based on interactions between thousands upon thousands of different molecules. In order to understand individual processes, we not only have to know the atomic structures of the individual molecules involved, but also follow their changes during these interactions. The employees of the Biomolecular Mechanisms department develop and use new methods to observe how properties and movements of atoms contribute to the biological function of molecules, even in the case of very rapid events.

Optical nanoscopy

The Optical Nanoscopy department concentrates on the development, validation and implementation of optical microscopy methods that are far below the classical diffraction limit. The primary goal of this department is to advance nano-optical molecular analysis in (living) cells.

Cellular Biophysics

The main scientific goal of the department is the development of technologies based on the interdisciplinary application of physics, chemistry and materials science. Fundamental questions of cell biology and biomedicine are to be explained and materials similar to life are to be constructed. The research of cell cohorts with regard to their decision-making processes and organization as well as the construction and function of synthetic cells, designer immune cells and tissues are examples of the diverse projects in the Department of Cellular Biophysics.

Research and working groups

7 independent research groups are currently working at the institute.

  • Thomas Barends group - Structural Biology of Elemental Cycles
  • Tatiana Domratcheva Group - Computative Photobiology
  • Group R. Bruce Doak - XFEL Sample Injection
  • Group Matthias Fischer - Viruses of Protists
  • Group Jochen Reinstein - Molecular Chaperones
  • Group Rolf Sprengel - Molecular Neurobiology
  • Inaam Nakchbandi Group - Translational Medicine

Emeritus group biophysics

The focus of the emeritus group in biophysics, headed by Kenneth C. Holmes, is the structure of the myosin-actin complex with atomic resolution.

Research Schools (IMPRS)

IMPRS for Quantum Dynamics in Physics, Chemistry and Biology

The IMPRS for Quantum Dynamics in Physics, Chemistry and Biology is a joint initiative of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics , the Ruprecht Karls University , the German Cancer Research Center , the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (all in Heidelberg ), and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt .

Other facilities

Light microscopy

The central facility for light microscopy of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research is intended to offer scientists from the institute and from outside the use of complex, current methods of light microscopy and light microscopic data analysis , support and training for sample preparation, data acquisition and data analysis, as well as communication and the Promote the exchange of experimental experiences.


The library of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research is a scientific reference and special library. It serves teaching and research in the fields of life sciences , chemistry , biology and physics .


  • Max Planck Society (ed.): Max Planck Institute for Medical Research , Series: Reports and Communications of the Max Planck Society, Issue 1980/1, ISSN  0341-7778

Web links

Individual evidence

  7. Central facility for light microscopy ( Memento of the original from May 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

Coordinates: 49 ° 24 ′ 43.6 "  N , 8 ° 40 ′ 33.6"  E