Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

At the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry researchers are on the trail of the cellular and molecular processes that control complex life processes. The scientists work at the interface between biology, chemistry and physics to develop increasingly sophisticated techniques to obtain insight into the world of the molecules. With the help of high-resolution microscopes, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, electron microscopes and ultrahigh-performance computers they investigate cells, organelles and proteins. Their aim is to find out the tricks that cells and biomolecules use to fulfil their varied functions – whether processing signals, transporting molecular freight or generating blueprints for protein production. Moreover, they study how genes control development and behaviour – for example, how a complex organism develops from a single egg cell or how our body clock “ticks”.


Am Faßberg 11
37077 Göttingen
Phone: +49 551 201-1211
Fax: +49 551 201-1222

PhD opportunities

This institute has several International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS):

IMPRS for Molecular Biology
IMPRS for Neurosciences
IMPRS for Physics of Biological and Complex Systems
IMPRS for Genome Science

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

Leibniz Prizes 2019 for three female Max Planck scientists

Melina Schuh, Brenda Schulman and Ayelet Shachar will be honoured with the most important German research promotion award, the Leibniz Prize 2019. Endowed with up to EUR 2.5 million, the award will be presented to them on 13 March 2019 in Berlin.

Animal Welfare Prize for Max Planck researchers

The prizewinners have developed an alternative to the most widely used antibodies, which can drastically reduce the number of animals in antibody production

“Super happy to be in the team of Stefan Hell”

Jonas Bucevicius is one of over 35 young scientists who will receive awards for their research achievements at the Max Planck Society’s Annual Meeting. The 30-year-old Lithuanian receives the Nobel Prize Fellowship from Stefan Hell. An interview about his research and life in Germany.

European Inventor Award for fast MRI in medical diagnostics

Jens Frahm wins in the category Research

Fast MRI in medical diagnostics

Jens Frahm nominated for the European Inventor Award 2018


Egg and sperm cells are highly sensitive during their development. When, for example, there is an error in the way the genetic material is divided between the individual gametes, the resulting embryo will often either be nonviable or suffer from severe birth defects. Melina Schuh from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen wants to find out why egg maturation is so error-prone. The results of her research could one day help couples who are unable to have children.

Doctors and patients can thank magnetic resonance imaging – and not least Jens Frahm – for the fact that many diseases can now be diagnosed far more effectively than they could 30 years ago. The research carried out by the director of the Biomedizinische NMR Forschungs GmbH (non-profit) at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen has greatly simplified the process of capturing images of the body’s interior. Now the team from Göttingen wants to bring those images to life.

Ludwig II of Bavaria is a particularly striking example of how differently people’s internal clocks can tick. According to historical sources, the monarch usually conducted his government business at night and slept during the day. Whether the Fairy Tale King had a disorder that disrupted his sleep-wake rhythm is a matter even Gregor Eichele can only speculate about. Nevertheless, Eichele and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen have gained much new insight into how the body’s natural timekeepers work.

Personal portrait: Stefan Hell

PhD Students (m/f)

Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen December 17, 2018

Postdoc Position

Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen October 19, 2018

PhD Student

Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen October 19, 2018

Molecular Resolution in Optical Microscopy

2018 Hell, Stefan W.

Cell Biology Chemistry Structural Biology

For the first time, it has been demonstrated that the ultimate resolution limit in fluorescence microscopy – the molecule’s size itself – can also practically be achieved. The MINFLUX concept begins a new chapter and opens up unprecedented opportunities in the optical analysis of molecular systems.


Towards disease modifying therapies of neurodegenerative diseases

2017 Ryazanov, Sergey;  Leonov, Andrei; Griesinger, Christian

Cell Biology Neurosciences Structural Biology

Neurodegenerative diseases‘ hallmark is the aggregation of mostly intrinsically disordered proteins. Getting fundamental insights into the structural biology of these proteins, it was possible to identify oligomers as an attractive target for disease modifying therapies. The compound anle138b is bearing the required properties regarding modification of aggregation pathways, and is also orally bioavailable.


The sleeping worm

2017 Bringmann, Henrik

Cell Biology Neurosciences

The question how and why we sleep is one of the most exciting mysteries of biology. Sleep is important for our well-being. Yet, we do not know how sleep becomes regenerative. The Max Planck Research Group Sleep and Waking is trying to answer these basic questions. The researchers’ strategy is to first investigate sleep in one of the most simple model organisms that sleeps, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. The group identified a single neuron to be responsible for sleep induction and found a molecular mechanism for sleep induction.


Protons as sensitive reporters for molecular details

2016 Linser, Rasmus

Cell Biology Chemistry Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics Neurosciences Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics Structural Biology

Many proteins in the focus of structural-biology studies cannot be elucidated by conventional methodology. The research group Solid-State NMR hence is concerned with the development and application of NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) methods dedicated for the characterization of structure and dynamics of solid proteins. Developing improved methodology for solid-state NMR helps to make more targets amenable for their characterization with atomic resolution.


How genes get active

2016 Cramer, Patrick

Cell Biology Genetics Structural Biology

Genes must be activated to make use of the genetic information in living cells. Gene activation starts with a process called transcription, which produces RNA copies of genes. Transcription by the transcribing enzymes, the RNA polymerases, has now been resolved in atomic detail. Future research will concentrate on processes that regulate transcription and thereby govern gene activity during cellular differentiation and the development of tissues and organisms.

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