Yearbook 2016

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Every organ in our body is composed of a multitude of single cells. Key to understanding the function of an organ is the knowledge of all the distinct cell types with their respective function plus their developmental pathways, with a so-called stem cell as a common starting point. Innovative novel molecular biology methods now permit the simultaneous quantification of thousands of molecules across single cells. This reveals a fingerprint of a cell, permitting to discriminate cell types of different function and to infer developmental pathways. more
In response to pathogens, immune cells activate a cellular program to eliminate harmful, infectious organisms and ensure our health. To mount a functional immune response, most immune cells require the reprogramming of their metabolic pathways. The scientists aim at gaining novel insight into how specific cellular compartments, so-called organelles, regulate such metabolic transitions. Of particular interest is hereby not only the function of individual organelles but also how inter-organellar communication drives metabolic immune cell programs and enables the fight against infections. more
For life, hematopoietic stem cells are springs of all new cells of the immune system. We have studied the embryonic origins of these stem cells, their migration from blood into fetal liver, their residence in bone marrow, their capacities to save energy and rest or to become active and differentiate into all types of mature cells of the immune system. Surprisingly, stem cells offer a home for quiescent, latent forms of tuberculosis bacteria. Thus, they may be a continuous danger for an eruption of active tuberculosis but may also be a source of continuously produced tuberculosis vaccine. more

Reconstruction of cell lineage trees

Max Planck Institute for Informatics Andres, Björn1; Schiele, Bernt1; Jug, Florian2; Blasse, Corinna2, Myers, Eugene W.2
Rapid progress in light microscopy allows biologists to image the development of living tissue consisting of several thousand cells. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics are jointly developing algorithms for reconstructing the lineage of all cells automatically from image data. A central aspect of their research consists in an approach by which two sub-problems are solved jointly, an image segmentation problem and a cell tracking problem. This approach has enabled accurate reconstructions of lineage trees. more
Advances in technologies enable thin and elastic touch displays that can be worn right on human skin. This could help to bring about a new paradigm for interacting with mobile computing devices: human skin turns into an interactive surface, which captures user input and provides visual or haptic output. The long-term goal of this new research direction is to develop more intuitive and more expressive user interfaces for computing devices, which are safe and efficient to use even during challenging mobile activities. more
Business models in the digital economy are increasingly based on the collection, analysis and use of data. However, the legal framework addressing general issues of access to and control of data is complex and not entirely clear. Given the importance of access to data and in light of the EU Commission’s “free flow of data” initiative, a working group of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition digs deeper into questions of the data-driven economy, in particular the need and the optimal scope of data-related regulation. more
The economics department of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition participated in a research cooperation with other national and international institutions on the judicial enforcement of patent rights. The project comprised the data collection of patent litigation cases in several European countries and their analysis in the context of national jurisdictions. The research project addressed the analysis of the fragmented European system on effectiveness and efficiency to settle patent disputes. more
With the claim “Connecting Science and Business.” Max Planck Innovation is partner of both science and industry. Our interdisciplinary team provides consulting and support for scientists in evaluating inventions, applying for patents, and founding companies. We offer industry a central point of access to the innovations of the Max Planck Institutes. We thus provide the important function of transferring the results of basic research into economically and socially useful products and services. more
An animal's running gait is dynamic, efficient, elegant, and adaptive. We see locomotion in animals as an orchestrated interplay of the locomotion apparatus, interacting with its environment. The Dynamic Locomotion Group at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart develops novel legged robots to decipher aspects of biomechanics and neuromuscular control of legged locomotion in animals, and to understand general principles of locomotion. more
Machine learning requires computer hardware to reliable and efficiently compute estimations for ever more complex and fundamentally incomputable quantities. A research team at MPI for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen develops new algorithms which purposely lower the precision of computations and return an explicit measure of uncertainty over the correct result alongside the estimate. Doing so allows for more flexible management of resources, and increases the reliability of intelligent systems. more
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