Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

How do cells form tissues? How do tissues form organs and organisms? Cell and developmental biologists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden devote their research to discovering how cell division and cell differentiation work, which structures can be found in cell organelles and how cells exchange information and materials. Physical processes play an important role here; processes which, for instance, influence the movement of molecular motors, such as actin and myosin. Model organisms like the fruit fly, zebrafish, roundworm or mouse, but also organoids – lab-grown miniaturized and simplified tissues or organs – help the more than 20 research groups to find answers to the very basic questions of life. The institute also develops innovative technology approaches necessary for work at the frontier of knowledge. Physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists create theoretical models, thus bringing our work into the field of systems biology. Often, the results of this basic research also provide clues for diagnosis and therapy for diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease or retinal degeneration.


Pfotenhauerstr. 108
01307 Dresden
Phone: +49 351 210-0
Fax: +49 351 210-2000

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS for Cell, Developmental and Systems Biology

Doctoral candidates are only accepted through the IMPRS-CellDevoSys selection procedure.

Department Self-organization of cells into organ communities


Department Algebraic Systems Biology


Department Tissue regeneration and its deregulation in diseases


Department Microtubules / Cell Division


Department Endocytosis / Endosomes


Dresden researchers connect imaging and genetic data to gain insights into the development of the pancreas

The pioneer of paleogenetics, Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology sitting on a chair on a stage, wearing a grey suit and glasses,facing towards a female moderator. He was answering questions during the ceremonial event commemorating the 30-year anniversary of the Max Planck Society in Leipzig and Dresden.

On September 4, 2023, Minister-President Michael Kretschmer and Max Planck President Patrick Cramer hosted a ceremonial event at the Kulturpalast in Dresden commemorating the 30-year success story of the Max Planck Society in Leipzig and Dresden. 


A newly discovered nematode species from the Pleistocene shares a molecular toolkit for survival with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans


Teams from MPI Institutes in Dresden, Dortmund, Frankfurt am Main and Göttingen have joined forces to gain the first evidence of a protein complex responsible for the transport of messenger RNA in neurons

A two-component molecular motor placing vesicles proximal to endosomal membranes.

A unique two-component molecular motor uses a kind of renewable chemical energy to pull vesicles toward membrane-bound organelles

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Meritxell Huch has led her own scientific department at the Max Planck Society since last year, making her one of the youngest directors in the organization’s history. However, the scientist was not born into her career.

For decades, few people were interested in the puncta that biologists observed when they examined cells under the microscope. Cliff Brangwynne and Anthony Hyman from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden were among the first researchers to study these mysterious phenomena in more detail.

Artists and architects of all eras have been inspired by symmetry in nature. This is hardly surprising, as symmetry is considered the epitome of beauty – and mirror symmetry is the absolute gold standard. Jochen Rink from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden is seeking to discover how organisms define the mirror plane and thereby fulfill the basic prerequisite for a symmetrical body structure. To do this he studies flatworms and their astonishing ability to regenerate missing body parts.

Many biomolecules move through cells like microscopic machines. Often, however, it isn’t known what forces these molecules generate or how fast the molecules act or move. That’s why Stephan Grill from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden decided to specialize in measuring molecular forces. He uses optical tweezers to pull gently on DNA strands. His method is shedding light on the proteins that read genetic information.

Eugene W. Myers never attended a biology lecture. Nevertheless, he made a career for himself in this field, and by developing a computer program, made a major contribution to decoding the human genome. The bioinformatician has recently become a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and at the Center for Systems Biology in Dresden.

Electron Microscopy Specialist / Facility Leader (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden July 02, 2024

Technical Assistant (BTA/MTA/CTA or equivalent) (m/f/d) | Molecular biology and advanced cell culture work

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden June 28, 2024

Postdoc(s) (m/f/d) | Mechanisms of tissue organogenesis and repair

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden June 27, 2024

Postdoctoral Position or Ph.D. student (m/f/d) | Energetics of Biological Systems

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden June 27, 2024

A map to study the behavior of early pancreas cells

2023 Grapin-Botton, Anne; Beydag-Tasöz, Belin Selcen

Cell Biology Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics Neurosciences Structural Biology

Anne Grapin-Botton’s research group focuses on how single cells act communally to generate an organ. Together with colleagues from the Novo Nordisk Foundation at University of Copenhagen, she and her team used a special method to watch both the activity of the gene Neurogenin 3 and the protein it makes in human pancreas cells. The researchers developed a methodology that can link the dynamic behaviors of pancreatic cells observed in live imaging movies to all the genes they express. This will contribute to a better understanding of how the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas develop. 


Quantitative lipid biochemistry in living cells

2022 Nadler, André

Cell Biology Developmental Biology Genetics Structural Biology

The Nadler lab develops chemical probes that can be used to study the function of lipids or fats in cell biology. Using these tools, they are now able to address a number of fundamental questions in membrane biology: Why do biological membranes exhibit an asymmetric lipid distribution? How does the cell direct lipid molecules with extremely variable structural properties to the correct organelle membranes? How are lipids moved across membrane contact sites? How do lipids interact with proteins in cellular signaling cascades? 


Contacts control regeneration

2021 Huch, Meritxell;  Cordero-Espinoza, Lucía; Dowbaj, Anna M.

Cell Biology Developmental Biology Genetics Neurosciences

Our research group at MPI-CBG focuses on tissue regeneration. Together with colleagues from Cambridge, our team has found that a regulatory cell type - mesenchymal cells - can activate or stop liver regeneration. This is achieved by the number of contacts these establish with the regenerating cells (epithelial cells). Our findings suggest that mistakes in the regeneration process, which can give rise to diseases, are caused by the wrong number of contacts between both cell populations. 


Development of a synthetic minimal cell

2020 Tang, Dora; Love, Celina

Cell Biology Developmental Biology

Our Lab is focused on mimicking cellular processes with synthetic systems. In collaboration with the MPI of Colloids and Interfaces (MPICI) we have developed a minimal synthetic cell, a simpler system compared to biological cells. This tunable synthetic system presents new exciting possibilities in addressing fundamental questions in biology.


When less is more: gene loss in evolution

2019 Hiller, Michael

Cell Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics

Which differences in the genome underlie differences in the characteristics of species is a central question in genetics and evolutionary biology. Our group develops computational methods to accurately detect functional differences in genomes. As our studies have  shown, gene loss is an important evolutionary mechanism. This research contributes to an understanding of how nature’s diversity evolved.

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