»Insight must precede application.«
Max Planck

The MPI-CBG is part of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, which is one of Germany’s leading institutions when it comes to basic research. More than 80 Max Planck Institutes perform basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities in the service of the general public.

Our understanding of phenomena and the world around us is based on basic research, which is a theoretical or experimental quest for new knowledge and the exploration of the unknown. It is driven by curiosity and the desire to stimulate new ways of thinking. Therefore, basic research is performed without the limitation of a particular end goal, a specific application, or a solution to a problem.

Since basic or fundamental research is exploratory in nature, it may not always have an immediate payoff. This often leads to it being misunderstood as an unnecessary luxury that can be replaced by applied research. However, the synergy of basic and applied research is essential to our understanding of science and its complexities. And that is why most research institutes involve both aspects: generating new knowledge and leading it towards novel applications.

In basic research, the unexpected is expected. Unanticipated scientific breakthroughs can sometimes be more valuable than the outcomes of agenda-driven research. Basic research lays the foundation for advancements in knowledge that lead to practical applications. Without such new knowledge, innovation is hardly possible. The former president of the Max Planck Society, Prof. Peter Gruss, described basic research as “the first link in the value chain,” which is the “indispensable prerequisite for innovation in research and industry.”


The Importance of Basic Research
Basic research, driven by curiosity, is essential for expanding human knowledge and creating innovations. Join us for an inspiring conversation with our leading experts: Prof. Anthony Hyman, director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden, Germany; Prof. Frank Jülicher, director of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPIPKS) in Dresden, Germany; Prof. Kai Simons, director emeritus of the MPI-CBG; and Prof. Jonathon Howard, former director of the MPI-CBG. They discuss what motivates them to pursue basic research, why it is crucial, and what inspires them to work every day. Discover their passion for science, their desire to uncover the unknown, and the profound impact of basic research on our understanding of the world.