Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics

Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics

All living creatures on Earth carry their own blueprint in their genetic material, the DNA. Research at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics is dedicated to decoding the DNA of human beings and other organisms. The Institute's scientists study the function of genes and their role during development, from the fertilised egg to the embryo and on to the mature organism. They are particularly interested in genes that can trigger diseases when they malfunction. For a quick and precise analysis of the genetic material, the scientists rely on state-of-the-art sequencing devices, which can decode the entire genetic material of a human being within a few days. Special computer programs designed at the Institute help them to analyse and interpret the resulting data.


Ihnestrasse 63-73
14195 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 8413-0
Fax: +49 30 8413-1207

PhD opportunities

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

IMPRS for Biology and Computation

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

FAIRE-STARR-seq data

Inventory and prediction of enhancer sequences in the mouse genome


Epigenetic mechanisms for parent-specific genetic activation decoded


Combination of switches deactivates surplus X chromosome at just the right time


How much tissue-specific information is contained in enhancer sequences?


How a protein helps making clean working copies of genes


Since the Berlin-based biotech company Scienion was established in 2001, it has experienced its fair share of highs and lows. We talked to its founder about what drives him to succeed and about the typical stumbling blocks and peculiarities associated with spin-offs from basic research.

Sequenced, yes – but decoded? We still don’t fully understand our human genetic make-up. The answer to many of its mysteries lies in the diploid nature of the genome, which contains two sets of chromosomes: one inherited from the father and one from the mother.

Nearly a quarter of all known illnesses are extremely rare and affect just a few thousand patients worldwide. Stefan Mundlos, a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, and his team specialize in the study of rare bone diseases. They are looking for the genes that trigger these disorders.

Head of Sequencing Facility (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin May 19, 2022

Trunk development in a dish

2020 Herrmann, Bernhard G.; Veenvliet, Jesse V.

Developmental Biology

The ontogeny of a complex organism from a single cell demands a high level of self-organization of stem cells and their descendants. The current 2-D model of cell differentiation in culture does not support the formation of embryo-like structures. By using a new 3-D culture system we were able to show that embryonic stem cells of the mouse are indeed able to form trunk-like structures comprising primordia of the spinal cord, cartilage, bone, and skeletal muscle in a culture dish. Our method strengthens a new field of research: Synthetic Embryology.


In the thicket of biological regulation

2019 Vingron, Martin; van Bömmel, Alena; Heinrich, Verena; Ramisch, Anna; Ballaschk, Martin

Evolutionary Biology Genetics Medicine

We are pursuing fundamental questions of biology: How do cells work, what are the processes within and how do these processes affect each other? After all, interaction of billions of molecules is what constitutes life. Hence, we try to understand the complexity of biological systems through mathematical models and the analysis of large-scale data. Particularly the dynamic regulation of genes is a continuous source for new and surprising discoveries.


Writing DNA methylation in mammalian genomes

2018 Galonska, Christina; Charlton, Jocelyn; Mattei, Alexandra; Meissner, Alexander

Developmental Biology Genetics Medicine

During the development of an organism, the sequence of its DNA remains unchanged. Gene activity, however, is epigenetically controlled by reversible modifications of the DNA sequence, such as methylation of cytosines. We are working on the development of a system for targeted methylation of the genome at defined positions. Thus, we hope to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of DNA methylation for the regulation of gene activity, thereby paving the way for the development of new therapeutic approaches for a range of diseases.


Molecular dissection of colorectal cancer in pre-clinical models identifies biomarkers predicting sensitivity to EGFR inhibitors

2017 Risch, Thomas; Abdavi-Azar, Nilofar; Jandrasits, Christine; Amstislavskiy, Vyacheslav; Worth, Catherine L.; Warnatz, Hans-Jörg; Sultan, Marc; Herwig, Ralf; Lehrach, Hans; Yaspo, Marie-Laure; in Kooperation mit dem OncoTrack Konsortium (

Genetics Medicine

Colorectal carcinomas (CRC) are clinically challenging tumors. To identify novel predictive biomarkers of the therapeutic response, the OncoTrack consortium recruited 106 CRC patients for establishing a biobank of organoids and xenografts models analysed by sequencing and tested in a pre-clinical platform. This unique resource generated a compendium of data for advancing our understanding of CRC. Linking molecular patterns with drug response profiles identified novel biomarkers, including a signature outperforming RAS/RAF mutations in predicting sensitivity to the EGFR inhibitor cetuximab.


From possibilities and necessities in epigenetics

2016 Kinkley, Sarah; Helmuth, Johannes; Chung, Ho-Ryun

Evolutionary Biology Genetics

Chromatin modifications provide information above the DNA sequence. The modifications correlate with transcriptional activity, constitute a memory of past decisions, and are thought to provide a state that enables future decisions. The direct measurement of a at the end conflicting combination of chromatin modifications revealed that this combination is not a reflection of molecular potential, as has been thought, but is required to dampen the mutation rate within important genes. Hence, chromatin modifications are key players keeping the DNA sequence in shape and thereby influence evolution.

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