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 Computational Biology and Scientific Computing

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

Scientists can predict in the lab whether a drug will be effective for individual colorectal tumours more
Scientists discover a new target for treating aggressive brain tumors more
New gene functions after genomic duplications
Researchers in Berlin describe how duplications of DNA segments affect the three dimensional structure of the genome more
DNA structure influences the function of transcription factors
Spatial arrangement of the binding site and neighbouring segments modulates gene activity more
“No authorization exists for such research”
The human geneticist Stefan Mundlos warns against intervention in the human germline made possible by the CRISPR/Cas ‘gene scissors’ more
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.
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Molecular dissection of colorectal cancer in pre-clinical models identifies biomarkers predicting sensitivity to EGFR inhibitors

2018 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. more

From possibilities and necessities in epigenetics

2017 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. more

Our genome in 3D - how DNA-folding regulates our genes

2016 Mundlos, Stefan
Developmental Biology Genetics Medicine

The folding of chromatin is an inherent property of the genome to incorporate the DNA in the cell nucleus. Recent advances using chromosome conformation capture technologies have shown that the genome is folded in structured domains, so-called TADs.  Structural variations, as they often occur in human genetic disease, can interfere with TAD configuration and thus result in altered gene expression and consecutive disease. By re-engineering human aberrations in mice it was shown that TADs and their boundaries are an essential component when interpreting structural variations.


Molecular networks in genome and proteome analysis

2015 Stelzl, Ulrich
Genetics Medicine
Molecular networks are data-based descriptions of molecular interactions in a cell. Today, a wealth of physiologically relevant protein information is available, obtained from cells under different conditions, from different systems or disease states, including information on genetic variation, protein levels, and post-translational modification. Molecular networks are useful frameworks to distinguish causal from other molecular alterations that are only consequence or do not substantially contribute to the phenotype. This way, molecular networks are also increasingly important for medicine. more

Long non-coding RNAs as regulators of transcription in human

2014 Ørom, Ulf
Developmental Biology Genetics Medicine
The "Long non-coding RNAs" (ncRNAs) research group is focusing on the molecular mechanisms of long non-coding RNAs. In particular, the scientists are studying how these transcripts are involved in transcriptional regulation and long-range gene activating functions. The goal is a better understanding of fundamental processes underlying regulation of gene expression. The detailed understanding of the complex class of ncRNAs is limited, however, their importance for gene regulation and disease progression is obvious, following studies in both basic science as well as clinical research. more
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