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 Tissue regeneration and its deregulation in diseases


Department Microtubules / Cell Division


Department Endocytosis / Endosomes

Fewer chromosome segregation errors in modern human than Neanderthal neural stem cells.

Brain stem cells of modern humans make fewer mistakes in the distribution of their chromosomes to the daughter cells

Anthony Hyman

The director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden receives the award for the discovery of condensates - cell droplets without a membrane

Droplets of transcription factors

Dresden researchers explain how liquid-like protein droplets collectively read DNA regions to switch on genes

Microscopic view of liver liver cell organoids derived from normal (left) or mutant (right) mice showing intrinsic accumulation of lipids (in green).

Two cancer genes regulate the metabolic state of the liver


Researchers have found where and how mRNA arrives in a cell to modify or deliver genetic information, a crucial process for the development of novel therapies

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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.

Technical Assistant (m/f/d) (BTA) | Genome Engineering Facility

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden July 14, 2022

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.


Uncovering Molecular Grammar

2018 Hyman, Anthony; Alberti, Simon

Cell Biology Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics Neurosciences Structural Biology

In order to perform diverse functions, the cell`s proteins and RNAs are located in membraneous compartiments, but also as distinct condensates. Unexpectedly, recent advances show that the mechanisms by which condensates assemble may hold the key to explaining some of the biggest open questions in biology, paving the way for a revolution in our understanding of cellular physics. We have now uncovered a protein sequence encoded molecular grammar that underlies phase separation of some types of proteins inside cells.


The virtual liver

2017 Zerial, Marino; Meyer, Kirstin; Ostrenko, Oleksandr; Bourantas, Georgios; Morales-Navarrete, Hernan; Porat-Shliom, Natalie; Segovia-Miranda, Fabian; Nonaka, Hidenori; Ghaemi,Ali; Verbavatz,  Jean-Marc; Brusch, Lutz;  Sbalzarini, Ivo F.; Kalaidzidis, Yannis;  Weigert, Roberto

Cell Biology Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics Neurosciences Structural Biology

Researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden developed a predictive 3D multi-scale model based on quantitative image analysis that stimulate the fluid dynamic properties of bile in the liver. This model can help to functionally characterize liver diseases, specific treatment options as well as drug-induced liver injury. Therefore, it is a promising tool for drug development to test and predict the effects of pharmacological compounds on the liver. The research team is now working on a strategy to calibrate this model to human biliary fluid dynamics.

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