The MPI-CBG Timeline


  • 10 January 1994

    The Max Planck Commission on „Research Perspectives within the Biological-Medical Section of the Max Planck Society“ recommends establishing an institute working in the field of genetics, molecular cell biology, and protein folding.


  • 7 March 1997

    The decision is taken by the Senate of the Max Planck Society to found the „Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG)“.

  • Recruiting the team

    6 December 1997

    Kai Simons, Marino Zerial, Wieland B. Huttner, and Anthony A. Hyman (from left to right) are recruited as Founding Directors to start on January 1, 1998. They signed their contracts with the Max Planck Society using one and the same pen.

    They are all based in Heidelberg at that time. Dresden is identified as the location for the new institute. 


  • The Institute is founded

    1 January 1998

    The first research groups start working in Heidelberg, Göttingen, and Berlin before the new building is finished. By the end of 1998, the Institute has 32 staff members (26 of them scientists). This will grow to 117 in 2000.


  • A new building in record time

    April 1999

    Construction begins for the new building on Pfotenhauerstraße 108. The Institute building is designed by the Finnish architects Heikkinen-Komonen and Henn Architekten from Munich and costs 55 million EUR. The construction phase takes less than two years: the first research groups move in on 22 January 2001.

  • Giving a structure to the vision

    1 November 1999

    Ivan C. Baines joins the team. He directs the scientific facilities and services of the Institute, and supervises the founding of biotech start-ups emerging from the MPI-CBG.

  • Adding Biophysics

    19 November 1999

    Jonathon Howard is recruited as Director and Research Group Leader. His contract starts on January 1, 2000. In the beginning, Joe is still based in Seattle.

  • Recruiting the Faculty

    A symposium to recruit the first Research Group Leaders is held in Dresden.


  • Reaching out to the East

    3 April 2000

    Hubert Markl, President of the Max Planck Society, and Miroslav Mossakowski, President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, agree to establish two junior research groups and share the funding. The first one is headed by Matthias Bochtler and located at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IIMCB) in Warsaw, Poland, and becomes operational in December 2000. In return, Ewa Paluch heads a research group based at the MPI-CBG from 2006.


  • It gets real

    22 January 2001

    First research groups move into the new building.

  • Starting a PhD Program

    April 2001

    The „International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Cell Biology and Bioengineering“ is established. It is a collaboration with the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden). The Program Spokesperson is Wieland Huttner.


  • Award-winning architecture

    14 February 2002

    The MPI-CBG is selected by the Finnish concrete industry as the "concrete structure of the year". The prize is awarded in Helsinki.

  • Now it's official!

    27 March 2002

    Symposium to inaugurate the new building. VIP guests are the Federal Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder, Kurt Biedenkopf (Minister President of Saxony), Hubert Markl (President of the Max Planck Society), Ingolf Roßberg (Mayor of the City of Dresden), and Achim Mehlhorn (Rector of TU Dresden).


  • Reaching out to the public

    27 June 2003

    The MPI-CBG helps to host the first Dresdner Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften.

  • 29 September - 2 October 2003

    First visit of the Scientific Advisory Board.


  • Art & Science

    4 February 2004

    The first MPI-CBG Art Prize is awarded to Rocco Pagel, advanced student (“Meisterschüler”) at the Dresden Art Academy. The Art Prize was founded to show the connections between the art and science world. Pagel’s painting “Beautiful Cell/Schöne Zelle” still hangs above the Galleria seminar room.

  • The President visits

    9 July 2004

    During his official inaugural visit to the Free State of Saxony, the Federal President of Germany, Horst Köhler, tours the MPI-CBG. He comes with his wife Eva Köhler and with Georg Milbradt, Minister President of Saxony, and Milbradt's wife Angelika Meeth-Milbradt.

  • Join the discussion!

    30 November 2004

    First session of the Science Café is held at the Restaurant Lingner in Hygienemuseum. The Science Café is a casual discussion format on science & society-related topics. The first session entitled "Wie zerbrechlich ist der gläserne Mensch?" was about genetic testing and data privacy with Andreas Schurig, Data Protection Officer of the Free State of Saxony, and with Giuseppe Testa and Tobias Heckel of MPI-CBG.


  • PingPong

    3 November 2005

    Nadja Schütt’s video work PingPong premieres. The video installation features 40 MPI-CBG staff members and illustrates how communication works at the Institute. Schütt is the second winner of the MPI-CBG Art Prize.

  • 24 November 2005

    The Max Planck Fellows Program is launched by Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society. The program strengthens cooperation between Max Planck Institutes and universities. Petra Schwille, professor at TU Dresden, is appointed as Max Planck Fellow at the MPI-CBG.


  • Building bridges

    Two partner groups are established: One headed by Marta Miaczynska at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IIMCB) in Warsaw (2006-2010), and one on „Pre-mRNA splicing and organization of the cell nucleus“ headed by David Stanek at the Charles University in Prague. The latter group moved to the Institute of Molecular Genetics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in 2007.

  • Leibniz!

    8 February 2006

    Marino Zerial, Research Group Leader and Director at the MPI-CBG, receives the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences in Berlin. The Leibniz Prize is the highest honour awarded in German research by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

  • 3 March 2006

    The MPI-CBG is selected to be one of 365 places to represent Germany during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in the „Land of Ideas“ program by the German government. The award ceremony is combined with a poetry slam on biology and genetics in the MPI-CBG Auditorium – Lawrence Rajendran wins with a poem on Alzheimer’s disease.

  • 31 May 2006

    Kai Simons becomes Director Emeritus. He was the primus inter pares during the build-up phase of the Institute.

  • 18-19 September 2006

    Evaluation of the Institute by the Scientific Advisory Board.

  • 1 October 2006

    Elisabeth Knust, professor at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, is recruited as new Director and Research Group Leader to succeed Kai Simons. The appointment by the President of the Max Planck Society is a so-called „Eilentscheidung“ (express decision): Her contract starts on October 11.


  • 20 April 2007

    Grit Ruhland, artist in residence and winner of the third MPI-CBG Art Prize, presents her work "Pantoffel für Pantoffeltierchen" (Slippers for Paramecia). The sculpture is 50 micrometers small and cannot be seen with the naked eye. It’s on display later in exhibits in Italy and New York.

  • 1 July 2007

    Michele Solimena (TU Dresden) becomes Max Planck Fellow at the MPI-CBG.


  • Best Place!

    26 February 2009

    The MPI-CBG is “Best Place to Work for Postdocs”. In a survey conducted among readers of The Scientist, the Institute is ranked number one for institutions outside of the United States.

  • Tweet tweet!

    3 March 2009

    The public relations office of the MPI-CBG joins Twitter with the handle @infooffice. The Institute channel @mpicbg is created in May 2012 and used to this day for news from the Institute.

  • Marwa El-Sherbini

    1 July 2009

    Marwa El-Sherbini and her unborn child are killed in a Dresden court room. Her husband Elwy Okaz, a scientist at the MPI-CBG, is seriously injured while trying to protect her. Every year on July 1, the Institute remembers this tragedy with white roses in the atrium.

  • Best Place to Work in Academia

    28 October 2009

    The MPI-CBG is “Best Place to Work in Academia”. The Scientist magazine’s readers ranked the MPI-CBG as the top international academic institution. The MPI-CBG’s strengths include team-building, infrastructure and environment.

  • Scientific Advisory Board

    28-30 October 2009

    First extended evaluation of the MPI-CBG by the Scientific Advisory Board, which means that the Advisory Board evaluates the scientific performance of the MPI-CBG in comparison with selected other Max Planck Institutes from the same research field. Recommendations include starting a center in systems biology and recruiting of senior scientists in computation.


  • Where Computer Science and Physics meet Biology: The Center for Systems Biology (CSBD) is founded. It is the first inter-sectional center of the Max Planck Society. It is an extension of the MPI-CBG and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS), with support from the Saxon State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts, the BMBF, and the Klaus Tschira Stiftung.

  • 21-23 February 2010

    Symposium for the 60th Birthday of Wieland Huttner, organized by Christof Niehrs and Marino Zerial.

  • 19 November 2010

    As of this day, the Statute of the Institute is effective.


  • Lights, camera, action!

    February 2011

    The MPI-CBG turns into a film set: „Errors of the Human Body”, the first feature length movie by Australian writer and director Eron Sheean, is filmed at the Institute. It stars Karoline Herfurth, Tomas Lemarquis, and Michael Eklund in the lead role of Geoffrey Burton.

  • More Leibniz!

    16 March 2011

    Anthony Hyman, Research Group Leader and Director at the MPI-CBG, is awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize „for his major contributions to discovering the molecular mechanism of conserved cytoskeletal processes“.

  • Unlocking the secrets of lipids

    22 September 2011

    The Indo-German Max Planck-NCBS Center on Lipid Research is founded. It is a collaboration of the MPI-CBG with the National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, India. The center is involved in the biochemical and biophysical analysis of biological membranes and the genetic analysis of lipid metabolic processes in various animal model systems.

  • 27 September 2011

    The Dresden Science Calendar is launched. It announces all upcoming scientific talks in Dresden via a unified internet platform.

  • Teaching tolerance

    25 November 2011

    The DIPP School Project “Science goes to school” is chosen out of 43 projects to be awarded the Sächsischer Integrationspreis. The award recognizes projects in Saxony that support tolerance and respect for people of different cultural, religious or ethnic backgrounds. Ten PhD students accept the award in a ceremony at the Landtag (Parliament) of Saxony with Mathias Rößler, chair of the Parliament.


  • 23 March 2012

    Gene Myers is recruited as Director and Research Group Leader. He starts at the MPI-CBG on 14 April 2012 (“nebenamtlich” - in addition to his official duties) and full-time on 1 June 2012. He is also the Founding Director of the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD).

  • 28 September 2012

    First meeting of the MPI-CBG Board of Trustees (Kuratorium). The Kuratorium supports the Institute and fosters links between the public and the MPI-CBG. Its members are representatives from the local politics, industry, science, and the media.

  • We are a family!

    19 November 2012

    The MPI-CBG is named the „Most family-friendly company in Dresden“. During a ceremony with the mayor of the City of Dresden, Helma Orosz, a sculpture by the Polish sculptor Malgorzata Chodakowska is handed over to the MPI-CBG management.

  • 10-12 December 2012

    Evaluation of the MPI-CBG by the Scientific Advisory Board. The SAB sees a clear "upward trend in the research performance even after 12 years".


  • New Max Planck Fellow

    1 January 2013

    Elly Tanaka is appointed as Max Planck Fellow at the MPI-CBG.

  • BINDER Innovation Prize

    20 March 2013

    Stephan Grill, research group leader at the MPI-CBG and the MPI for the Physics of Complex Systems is awarded the BINDER Innovation Prize 2013.

  • Science on stage

    12 April 2013

    Premiere of “Ziffer, Zelle, Zebrafisch”, a play on research and science staged in the MPI-CBG Galleria. It is a collaboration with the Theater Junge Generation Dresden and “CIE. Freaks und Fremde” and supported by the Klaus Tschira Foundation. In total, 63 shows with 2,979 visitors were performed until 2016.

  • Leaving

    31 December 2013

    Joe Howard (Director) and Karla Neugebauer (Research Group Leader) accept an offer from Yale University and leave the MPI-CBG.


  • Happy MPI-CBG!

    6 March 2014

    The Happy MPI-CBG video with dancing scientists and dancing directors is released. More than 21,000 people watch it on YouTube.

  • Oracle research

    June/July 2014

    During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the research focus of the MPI-CBG shifts to identifying the gene regulatory networks underlying divination. The oracles research program studies Drosophila, Xenopus frogs, C. elegans, Red Flour Beetles, Zebrafish Oskar, the collective prediction power of the Yeastacle, and the planarians Frank, Collin, and Luigi.

  • 1st MPI-CBG Institute Day

    27 June 2014

    First MPI-CBG Institute Day, a team-building event bridging all departments, facilities and research groups. A scavenger hunt in the city center floods Dresden with MPI people.

  • CSBD Groundbreaking

    CSBD Groundbreaking

    28 August 2014

    The groundbreaking ceremony for the Center for Systems Biology (CSBD) takes place with the Minister President of the Free State of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, together with Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society, and Gene Myers.

  • 21 November 2014

    A new partner research group at the Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, is established. It is headed by Xin Liang.


  • 1st MPI-CBG Science Day

    9–10 July 2015

    First MPI-CBG Science Day, two days of talks on exciting frontier research and a summer party as grand finale.

  • 21 July 2015

    Stephan Grill is appointed as Max Planck Fellow.

  • 1st Dresden Science TweetUp

    26 September 2015

    The MPI-CBG together with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf hosts the 1st Dresden Science TweetUp.

  • Relaunch of MPI-CBG Website

    28 September 2015

    The new MPI-CBG website is launched with a completely new design and new content.

  • RUN & ROLL

    Run & Roll

    4 October 2015

    “RUN & ROLL – Dresden bewegt sich!”, a charity run is organised together with the Dresden University Hospital and a number of partners. 3,500 people participate in the run, it raises 80,000 EUR for a special refugee clinic in Dresden.

  • SAB Evaluation

    7–9 October 2015

    Evaluation of the Institute by the Scientific Advisory Board. This time it is an extended evaluation of the research field of which the Institute is a member.

  • Roofing Ceremony for the CSBD

    15 December 2015

    Roofing ceremony for the CSBD. The celebration features addresses by Dirk Hilbert, Mayor of the City of Dresden, Gene Myers, the CSBD Founding Director, the Architect Janne Kentala (Heikkinen-Komonen Oy), Heike Kiko of the building department of the Max Planck Society, and the Construction Manager Maik Kiesewetter.


  • 11-12 January 2016

    "Polarity, polarity, I love it very much!": Symposium to celebrate the 65th birthday of Elisabeth Knust

  • Science needs women

    15 April 2016

    Kate Lee receives WOMEN IN SCIENCE award (Photo by Kai Bublitz for L’Oréal)

  • Lipid Rafts go gold!

    22 June 2016

    Kai Simons receives the Robert Koch Gold Medal

  • Outstanding accomplishments in light sheet microscopy

    20 July 2016

    Jan Huisken receives Medal for Light Microscopy

  • Sweet 15!

    27-29 October 2016

    Anniversary Symposium with talks, lab reunions and parties to celebrate 15 years of MPI-CBG in Dresden.


  • First-ever Biopolis Dresden PhD Symposium

    23 January 2017

    PhD students at the MPI-CBG took a leading role in establishing the first Biopolis Dresden PhD Symposium - a symposium organized by PhD students from the whole Dresden Johannstadt campus for other PhD students.

  • Inauguration of the CSBD

    31 May / 1 June 2017

    The new centre is an initiative of several institutions: the MPI-CBG, the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, as well as the Technische Universität Dresden.

  • 2nd MPI-CBG Institute Day

    18 August 2017

    2nd MPI-CBG Institute Day, a team-building event bridging all departments, facilities and research groups with a canoe trip on the river Elbe.

  • Anthony Hyman receives Schleiden Medal

    7 September 2017

    Award for outstanding scientific work in the field of cell biology

  • Maus-Türöffnertag

    3 October 2017

    The MPI-CBG and the neighbouring Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD) take part for the first time in a nationwide open house day, called "Türöffner-Tag", organized by the famous German kids’ TV show "Die Sendung mit der Maus." In the MPI-CBG and the CSBD, children could experience light microscopy and Virtual Reality.