The MPI-CBG has developed a non-departmental structure: While traditionally, Max Planck Institutes are divided into departments, we abolished this dividing structure and established an interactive network of research groups. All research group leaders are independent, receive a defined package of support, and have a defined amount of space.

Alexander von Appen

Mechanisms of Nuclear Self-Assembly

The von Appen lab studies membranous organelle formation and maintenance. In particular, we are interested in how the worlds of molecular condensates, bio-membranes, and structured molecular machines cooperate to pattern diverse subcellular compartments. We use integrated approaches combining cryo-electron microscopy, proteomics, in vitro reconstitution, and structural cell biology to cover a broad range of molecular scales – from the structure of molecules to cellular organization – and to understand how functional molecular collectives form and shape the cells interior. Ultimately, by revealing structure and mechanism of membranous organelle formation we hope to understand how dysregulation of these processes causes human disease.
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Claudia Gerri

The fetal-maternal interface across species: from comparative embryology to multicellular systems

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Anne Grapin-Botton

Self-organization of cells into organ communities

The Grapin-Botton lab investigates the impact of the cellular and organ architecture on the cells’ fate choices and how single cells act in a community to generate an organ, focusing on the pancreas. To do so, they use mouse genetics, live imaging in 3D and they developed 3D in vitro “organoid” culture systems modelling development. More recently they used human in vitro stem cell models to investigate human development. These studies are intended to gain insight into human syndromes impairing pancreas development and they guide the generation of replacement beta cells for Diabetes therapy.
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Stephan Grill

Physics of Life

The Grill lab is interested in the mechanisms by which structure and form arises in living systems. We pursue interdisciplinary research and combine a biology, biophysics and theory approach. We pay a particular focus on the coupling of chemistry and mechanics, and work to reveal physical principles and develop physical concepts that underly the dynamic self-organization of living matter. We investigate morphogenetic force generation in molecules, surfaces and volumes, and work on a number of systems and model organisms ranging from in vitro systems, to the nematode worm, and quail.
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Pierre Haas

Self-Organization of Multicellular Systems

The research of the Haas group focuses on the mechanics of cells and tissues. We are particularly interested in deriving the continuum theories that represent the rich mechanical behaviour of tissues during development, and to understand how robust development is compatible with mechanical constraints and variability. While our research is theoretical, we work in close collaboration with experimental groups at the MPI-CBG and beyond.
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© Z Goriely

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Heather Harrington

Algebraic Systems Biology

The research group of Heather Harrington develops models and methods to study biological and chemical systems and uses mathematical and statistical techniques in order to solve interdisciplinary problems.
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Meritxell Huch

Tissue regeneration and its deregulation in disease

Our long-term goal is to understand the principles that govern proliferation and differentiation of adult organs and tissues to gain the knowledge required to further develop our organoid cultures and potentially recapitulate organogenesis in vitro.
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© Sven Döring

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Anthony Hyman

Organization of Cytoplasm

The Hyman Lab studies how the inside of a cell — the cytoplasm — is organized. The lab is particularly interested in how cells can form functional compartments without using a membrane to separate them from the rest of the cell. This happens through a process called liquid-liquid phase separation, much like how oil and vinegar separate in a vinaigrette. This breakthrough concept was developed in the lab and has changed the way we think about the basic properties of how a cell works. The lab now studies the properties of these compartments, as well as how they relate to disease.
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Rita Mateus

Biophysical Principles of Vertebrate Growth

DRESDEN-concept Research Group Leader MPG / TUD

Evolution brings us incredible diversity in animal size and shape, but remarkably, our organs and limbs remain proportional to our body size. This entails an extraordinary level of coordination across different scales. How do organs measure and control their size? This is a crucial question that has remained long unresolved in Biology. We aim to answer it by looking at cells. We are focused on studying biophysical modes of cellular communication: Electrical Flows, Chemical Signalling and Mechanical Forces, with the goal of understanding how organ growth information is encoded.
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Carl Modes

Network Complexity and Systems Biophysics

Our group seeks to leverage principles and methods of applied topology and geometry in order to better understand complex biological phenomena, with a particular focus on the role of network complexity in these systems.
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Gene Myers

Exploring Cells & Systems via Image Analysis and Customized Microscopy

The interdisciplinary and technology-oriented Myers Lab is developing new microscopes and computer vision methods to truly digitize and thus accelerate discovery in cell and developmental biology. Specifically, we are building application specific rigs and software that will allow us to better observe and quantitate meso-scale cell dynamics and cell lineages over long arcs of time during the development of a tissue or organism.
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André Nadler

Membrane Chemical Biology - Spotlight on lipids

While the localization of proteins in membranes is quite well studied and comparatively straightforward to visualize, lipids are much harder to locate and study. The Nadler Lab develops methods to visualize lipids in the cellular membranes by using chemical probes. This research will eventually lead to a better understanding of how biological membranes work by making observable what can’t be observed yet.
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Jonathan Rodenfels

Energetics of Biological Systems

The research in the Rodenfels lab will focus on understanding how energetics shape the behavior of biological systems. We are particularly interested in how cells and organisms partition their metabolic energy among the complex array of cellular processes that are necessary for life at any scale, from isolated biochemical networks to quiescent and highly proliferative cells to organismal growth and development.
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Ivo Sbalzarini

Scientific Computing for Image-based Systems Biology

The MOSAIC Group does research in Scientific Computing for Image-Based Systems Biology. They exploit the unifying framework of particle methods for image analysis, numerical simulation, and model identification. The research is mainly theoretical and computational. As they do not perform own experiments and do not run a wet-lab, they collaborate with numerous experimental groups in order to apply their methods to help advance biology.
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Andrej Shevchenko

Mass Spectrometry in Life Sciences

Every molecule has a structure and its corresponding mass, by ionizing these molecules. We are able to use mass spectrometry to detect and quantify the molecular composition. We develop analytical technologies to quantify known biomolecules as well as discover novel biomolecules, particularly lipids and proteins, that can be found in a variety of biological and biomedical contexts.
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Jacqueline Tabler

Cell biology and dynamics of skull growth

The skull is essential to human life as it protects the brain from damage. Despite the skull’s importance, many fundamental questions about skull development remain unanswered: What cellular behaviours drive skull growth and morphogenesis during embryogenesis? How is skull expansion regulated genetically? Which cellular processes go wrong in human craniofacial diseases? How does variation between species alter the cellular dynamics of skull growth?
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Pavel Tomancak

Patterns of gene expression in animal development

The Tomancak Lab's overall goal is to understand how the information contained in animal genomes transforms into coordinated cell behaviors during development, and how evolutionary changes in gene regulatory networks shape and constrain the formation of animal body plans. The most direct manifestation of the genome sequence is the tissue specific regulation of gene expression and the integration of tissue specific gene activity governs the building of a multicellular organism. Therefore, by studying patterns of gene expression and their evolutionary variations in developing systems, we take the necessary steps towards understanding the information transfer from genome sequences to developmental processes.
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Agnes Toth-Petroczy

Protein plasticity and evolution

The ATP lab’s main focus is understanding proteins and their evolution. We are fascinated by the encoding of information in the genome, how sequences determine structure and function, and ultimately the phenotype of an organism. The sequence processing however is not precise, and errors, i.e. genetic and phenotypic mutations occur, altering the information. These variations provide raw material for evolution via selection, potentially leading to adaptation. We combine computational methods with wet-lab experiments to advance our understanding of protein evolution. Our current spotlight includes studying and modeling protein synthesis errors, investigating proteins forming condensates, modeling protein structures, and classifying the effects of mutations in disease relevant genes.
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Jesse Veenvliet


During embryogenesis form, forces and fate need to be tightly coordinated in space and time to produce a normal foetus. How this is achieved in mammalian embryos upon implantation into the uterus remains largely an enigma, mostly due to the inaccessibility of the embryo for direct observation and manipulation. In the Stembryogenesis Lab, we therefore reconstruct development in a dish to understand how embryos build themselves. By coaxing pluripotent stem cells to form embryonic organoids - stembryos - we can address questions with a long history with modern tools. Which cellular interactions drive mammalian embryo architecture? How are form and fate coordinated? How is developmental variability controlled? In sum, how is a mammalian embryo reproducibly shaped?
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Christoph Zechner

Stochastic processes in cells and tissues

Chemical reactions serve as central units for cellular information processing and control. However, reaction chemistry inside cells is “noisy”, leading to significant variability in the molecular constitution of living systems. How can we reconcile the large degree of stochasticity in intracellular chemistry with the high degree of spatiotemporal control that is required for forming and maintaining a complex multicellular organism? In the Zechner lab, we merge signal and control theory with statistical physics to address this question. We develop effective computational methods to analyze stochastic biological processes across scales, and to reverse-engineer their dynamical features from experimental data. We apply these techniques to different biological systems in collaboration with experimentalists at the MPI-CBG and elsewhere.
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Marino Zerial

Principles of cell and tissue organization: from endocytosis to a systems understanding of liver structure and function

The research focus of the Zerial Lab is to unravel basic cellular processes at the molecular level and understand how they are applied in a tissue. We are particularly interested in endocytosis – how cells eat, drink and process information. We study endocytosis in the liver, how it regulates liver metabolism and signalling, and how cells interact to form the liver tissue. We look at how cells get infected by viruses, bacteria and parasites through these normal cell functions in order to understand the implications for disease.
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Biophysics Biology

Jointly Affiliated Research Groups

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Natalia Rodriguez-Muela

Natalia Rodriguez-Muela

Selective Neuronal Vulnerability in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Co-affiliation: DZNE-German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases

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