The new Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden has been established by the Max Planck Society. The institute will focus its research on how cells organise themselves to form tissues. The research program will be broad enough to cover most aspects of cellular organisation so that the research themes together provide a comprehensive view of cell structure and function in both the developing and adult organism. Specific topics studied within the conceptual framework of "cellular asymmetries" include cell division, organelle structure, membrane traffic, cytoskeletal organisation, signal transduction and cell fate determination. The model organisms under investigation are Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, zebrafish and mouse.
The new institute is being created in an exciting period of biomedical science: the first two eukaryotic genome projects have been finished, and in a few years the entire sequence of the human genome will be known. This flood of sequence information provides unique possibilities for understanding cellular function. Within this context, the new institute focuses on the following questions: How do cells organize themselves, what is the machinery responsible for cellular organization and how does the machinery change to generate the specialised cell types of multicellular organisms, and how do the various cell types assemble to form tissues? To answer these questions, the new institute merges molecular cell biology with developmental biology. This challenge will be met by a combination of experimental strategies which include novel genetic, morphological and biophysical approaches.
The institute is developing a research programme broad enough to cover most aspects of cellular organisation so that the research themes together provide a comprehensive view of cell structure and function in both the developing and adult organism. Specific topics studied within the conceptual framework of "cellular asymmetries" include
The model organisms under investigation are Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, zebrafish and mouse
A central European institution.
One important task of the institute is the training of scientists in modern cell and molecular biology at the pre- and postdoctoral level. The plan is to establish a special training programme which attracts highly qualified pre- and postdoctoral fellows, with an emphasis on the neighbouring countries of Central-Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic). In addition, scientists from Central and East European countries are being recruited as group leaders to the new institute.
A perfect location
Dresden is a city rich in history, architecture and culture and the closest German State capital to Central-Eastern Europe. Therefore Dresden is an ideal gateway to neighbouring countries. The beauty of Dresden will help to attract first class scientists from all over the world and by this means promote the international character and excellence of the scientific staff of the institute. Strong collaborative links to the medical, engineering and the chemistry departments of the Technical University (TU Dresden) are being established. Moreover, since Dresden is striving to become a high-tech centre, the new institute promotes and supports the development of research and teaching in the new area of bioengineering at TU Dresden. An active campaign is underway to attract biotech startup companies to Dresden.
The status quo
The institute will be housed in a new building, the construction of which has just begun and will be completed by the end of the year 2000. Until then, the five directors continue their research in the institutions where they work now. The recruitment of junior group leaders and the build-up of scientific activities is in full progress. A first call for applications has been very successful and so far six highly qualified group leaders have been appointed (Michael Brand, Suzanne Eaton, Marcos González-Gaitán, Teymuras Kurzchalia, Elly Tanaka and Wolfgang Zachariae). Depending on individual circumstances, these junior group leaders will begin by setting up their groups at their present home institutions prior to the concerted move into the new building in January 2001.
Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Further information: http://www.mpi-cbg.de/