Max Planck Society



At the MPI for Medical Research, physicists, chemists and biologists create knowledge of long-term relevance to basic medical science. With the arrival of three new directors in 2015/16, the institute has a new unifying theme: observing and controlling the vastly complex macromolecular interactions in the context of cells - both in health and disease. The presently four departments contribute to this goal through their complementary expertise: optical microscopy with nanometer resolution (Stefan Hell), the design of chemical reporter molecules (Kai Johnsson), macromolecular structure determination (Ilme Schlichting), cellular, materials and biophysical sciences  (Joachim Spatz). The institute has a distinguished history of fundamental breakthroughs, evidenced by six Nobel Prizes awarded to its researchers since its foundation.


Dept. of Biomolecular Mechanisms (Director: Ilme Schlichting)

This department has been at the institute since 2002.  The main theme of research concerns the complex chemical reactions in living cells, which are catalyzed by enzymes. The atomic structures of important enzyme molecules are determined, above all through the use of free-electron lasers.

Dept. of Optical Nanoscopy (Director: Stefan Hell)

Stefan Hell is a director at both the MPImF and at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen.

Dept. of Chemical Biology (Director: Kai Johnsson)

Kai Johnsson moved to the MPImF during 2017 from his current location in Lausanne (Switzerland). His directorship here will initially be adjunct, until his appointment at Lausanne ends in 2017.

Dept. of Cellular Biophysics (Director Joachim Spatz)

The department of Joachim Spatz is currently at the MPI for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, with an outstation at Heidelberg University. These will be united to form his new department at the MPImF.


The moves of the three new departments will take place in stages, starting in January 2017, as soon as the necessary building work is finished.

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