Max Planck Institute for Medical Research

Max Planck Institute for Medical Research

At the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, physicists, chemists and biologists create knowledge of long-term relevance to basic medical science. The institute has a unifying theme: observing and controlling the vastly complex macromolecular interactions in the context of cells - both in health and disease. The presently four departments contribute to this goal through their complementary expertise. They work on optical microscopy with nanometer resolution, on the design of chemical reporter molecules, on macromolecular structure determination and on cellular, materials and biophysical sciences. The institute has a distinguished history of fundamental breakthroughs, evidenced by six Nobel Prizes awarded to its researchers since its foundation.


Jahnstraße 29
69120 Heidelberg
Phone: +49 6221 486-0
Fax: +49 6221 486-351

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Biosensor for phenylketonuria

With the help of a new blood test patients with this disease can monitor their metabolites

First published results from new X-ray laser

Structural biologists collect high-quality data at EuXFEL

A new tool for studying Alzheimer`s disease

Imaging and tracking a key player in the disease made possible by a new marker

A stable shell for artificial cells

Scientists are developing cell-like lipid vesicles which can be populated with natural cell proteins

<p>Shining a light on molecular switches</p>

First structural insights obtained from femtosecond X-ray crystallography


Life is motion and interaction with the environment. This is equally true of cells within an organism, but for cells to get from one place to another, they not only have to be able to move, they also have to interact with their environment. Joachim Spatz and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg are studying how cells manage this. In his search for answers, the winner of the 2017 Leibniz Prize puts cells through their paces on catwalks and obstacle courses to test their adhesive properties.

2 Ph.D. positions and 1 PostDoc position (f/m/d)

Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg May 17, 2019

Postdoctoral Positions (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg May 09, 2019

Protein engineering brings the clinical laboratory to the patient´s fingertip

2019 Johnsson, Kai

Cell Biology Structural Biology

The treatment of numerous diseases could be improved  by monitoring the blood concentration of disease-relevant metabolites at the point-of-care (POC), ideally even by the patient. Therefore we have developed a biosensor for the accurate quantification of metabolites in small blood samples obtained from a simple finger prick. This biosensor could become an important tool for the diagnosis and management of various diseases.


Cells on the move: collective cell migration under the microscope

2018 Spatz, Joachim P.; Vishwakarma,Medhavi; Das, Tamal; Grunze, Nina

Cell Biology Structural Biology

The collective and correlated migration of cells as a group is a hallmark of tissue remodeling events. As such it is essential to both life-supporting processes, like wound repair and embryonic morphogenesis, as well as pathological processes, like cancer invasion. The Max Planck researchers have successfully decoded the physical and molecular mechanisms that regulate networking and orientation in groups of cells that move as one.


Rocket fuel in bacteria

2017 Dietl, Andreas; Barends, Thomas

Cell Biology Structural Biology

The exchange of nitrogen between the atmosphere and organic matter is crucial for life on Earth. One major route for this cycle, discovered only in the 1990s, is the anammox pathway that is found in certain bacteria. It proceeds via hydrazine, a highly reactive substance used by humans as a rocket fuel. A study of the structure of the enzymes involved in making and handling hydrazine in the bacterial cell offers striking insights into the possibilities of an unconventional intracellular chemistry.


How do we find our way?

2016 Sprengel, Rolf; Seeburg, Peter H.

Cell Biology Neurosciences Structural Biology

Finding our way in our daily environment is essential for survival, but how do we do it? The answer to this question is relevant to understanding dementia. Mice are a useful experimental model here. A mouse receives a lot of information about its environment and must decide in every situation what information is most helpful and what is misleading. Nerve cells of the central region of the brain, the hippocampus, use NMDA receptors not to store information about the environment, but instead to recognize, judge and decide which items of information are most useful.


Towards an efficient synthesis of new glycopeptide antibiotics

2015 Cryle, Max

Cell Biology Neurosciences Structural Biology

There is an urgent need to be able to synthesize modified glycopeptide antibiotics quickly to keep up with the problem of bacterial resistance. On an industrial scale this is currently not possible, because the crucial steps of the natural antibiotic synthesis are too little understood. New detailed insights into these mechanisms offer the hope of simulating this process in the laboratory, to allow a variety of more substantially altered glycopeptide antibiotics to be produced in rapid response to developing bacterial resistance.

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