Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry

The Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, which focuses primarily on research into depression and anxiety disorders, is one of the world's leading institutes in this field. Here, basic research is closely interlinked with clinical research: the Institute incorporates a 120-bed hospital, numerous specialist outpatient departments and three day units. Within these facilities, the modern research branches of genetics and proteomics are combined with the clinical analysis techniques of imaging and the measurement of brain function. The aim is to identify biomarkers of psychiatric and neurological disorders in a bid to better understand the molecular basis of these diseases. The knowledge obtained goes into the development of new therapies and drugs for the personalised medicine of tomorrow.


Kraepelinstr. 2 - 10
80804 München
Phone: +49 89 30622-1
Fax: +49 89 30622-605

PhD opportunities

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

IMPRS for Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences: From Biology to Medicine
IMPRS for Translational Psychiatry

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

Department Translatinal Research in Psychiatry


Department Stress Neurobiology and Neurogenetics

The gene which defines us as humans

Researchers discover information about the gene which makes a difference


In response to acute stress the regulation of blood flow changes in various brain regions

Stress in the cerebellum

Under challenging conditions a signaling molecule is critical for the motor ability

Anti-stress compound reduces obesity and diabetes

FKBP51-protein inhibitors could be used for treating diabetes


Genes and environmental factors together can affect mental health


People who haven’t gotten enough sleep often see the world as a fairly sad place. If their tiredness lasts for weeks or even months, their dark mood may become chronic and develop into depression. Conversely, depression is frequently also associated with severe sleep disorders. Axel Steiger and his team at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich are studying the connection between disturbed sleep and depression. To do this, they measure human brain activity in the sleep lab.

The Terror of Trauma

MPR 3 /2011 Biology & Medicine

Years after their occurrence, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and accidents continue to trigger anxiety and panic attacks in many people. Those afflicted find themselves reliving the event in nightmares or flashbacks.

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Strategies to decode the molecular basis of psychiatric diseases

2018 Ziller, Michael J.

Cognitive Science Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine Neurosciences Physiology

Psychiatric diseases represent one of the major public health burdens in western societies. The scientists at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry are developing a new system medicine approach in order to address these challenges. In this approach, pluripotent stem cell based personalized disease models are used to generate various human brain cells in the laboratory. By combining these models with sophisticated computational analysis strategies, the scientists aim at decoding the patient specific molecular genetic basis of these diseases.


Human-derived cerebral organoids for investigating human cortical malformations

2017 Cappello, Silvia

Developmental Biology Genetics Neurosciences

Malformations of the cerebral cortex are often associated with intellectual disability and epilepsy. These disorders arise in the course of cortical development as a consequence of disturbance of neuronal development, migration and connection. In order to develop therapeutic strategies, it is essential to understand the genetic causes and to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying these malformations. The MPI research group uses cerebral organoids derived from induced stem cells for this purpose.


Psychiatric disorders as disorders of social interaction

2016 Schilbach, Leonhard

Medicine Neurosciences

Psychiatric disorders can affect our ability to successfully and enjoyably interact with others. The neural mechanisms of social interaction and transdiagnostic social impairments are only now beginning to be studied thanks to methodological developments. In the future, interaction-based functional neuroimaging, used by scientists at the MPI of Psychiatry, may help in the selection and refinement of treatment options for psychiatric disorders.


MicroRNAs – small but remarkable!

2015 Chen, Alon

Behavioural Biology Cell Biology Genetics Medicine Neurosciences

MicroRNAs regulate the activity of genes in our cells. Thus, in nerve cells of the brain, they influence our behavior or our reaction to the environment – two processes that are disturbed in psychiatric diseases. Now microRNAs have been discovered, which for instance act as our body’s own antidepressant or allow an adequate reaction to stressful situations. Better understanding of the role of microRNAs in psychiatric disorders will help to develop new diagnostics or treatment approaches.


Childhood maltreatment leaves long-lasting modifications on genes

2014 Binder, Elisabeth

Genetics Immunobiology Medicine Neurosciences

Childhood maltreatment not only harms mind and body but leaves long-lasting modifications on genes. Patients suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder who have or have not experienced childhood maltreatment, displayed distinct epigenetic profiles in immune cells. Thus identical psychiatric diagnosis can be accompanied by distinct biological signatures and possibly differential response to treatment. This highlights the importance of the patient’s individual biography in defining disease subtypes.

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