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 Life Sciences: From Biological Structures to Neural Circuits
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.

Balancing fear

November 18, 2021

The brain uses bodily signals to regulate fear


Uncovering the activities of the organs, tissues and cells responsible for the body’s stress response revealed new cells and possible new drug targets


Cleverly combining artificial and human intelligence leads to improved prevention of psychosis in young patients


The molecule, which is increasingly formed in the brains of depressed patients, triggers fear reactions in mice


Social status influences behavior of stressed mice in a sex-specific way


Silvia Cappello’s life is all about movement: at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, she performs research into the way in which different types of neurons migrate to the correct position in the cerebral cortex, during embryonic development of the brain. In her free time, the passionate athlete rarely stands still either.

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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Biomarkers to predict the antidepressant response

2020 1Turck, Christoph W.; 1Park, Dongik; 2Ditzen-Janotta, Claudia

Genetics Medicine Neurosciences

The World Health Organization estimates that around 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression. Affective disorders represent one of the most significant causes for the loss of healthy life years and result in a reduced life expectancy compared to the general population. Psychotropic drugs approved for the treatment of depression do not result in disease improvement or even remission in all affected patients. The identification of specific biomarkers that provide each patient with the optimal drug would be an important milestone in personalized psychiatric medicine.


Body and mind: Two sides of the same coin

2019 Schmidt, Mathias V.

Cognitive Science Medicine Neurosciences Physiology

Stress-induced diseases are among the most common health problems worldwide and include both mental disorders such as depression and physical conditions such as diabetes. These diseases are causally related to each other and the mechanisms of stress regulation could be a common cause of both physical and mental disorders. We have identified a central mechanism that is decisively involved in the development of stress-induced diseases and represents a novel treatment option.


The uncharted territory of epitranscriptomics – mRNA modifications in psychiatric disorders

2018 Stamp, Fabian; Binder, Elisabeth; Chen, Alon

Developmental Biology Genetics Neurosciences Physiology

Stress can affect gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA-methylation. New research suggests a similar regulation at the level of messenger molecules (mRNA) which are responsible for the transmission of genetic information. The most common mRNA modification N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is regulated by stress in the brain and shows a changed signature in the blood of patients suffering from depression. Future research investigating the involvement of m6A in the stress response can provide a better understanding of the origin of stress-related psychiatric disorders.


Strategies to decode the molecular basis of psychiatric diseases

2017 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

2016 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.

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