Yearbook 2005

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Understanding the mechanisms that control the maintenance and differentiation of stem cells in the central nervous system of mammals is a key question in developmental and regenerative neurobiology. As the population ages, the occurrence of diseases that afflict the nervous system are becoming of prime importance and currently there are no therapies for the maintenance or replacement of neurons lost due to disease or damage in the brain. Scientists at the MPI for Immune Biology have focused on the identification of neural stem cells in the mammalian central nervous system, determining the niche and mechanisms that control neural stem cell development and addressing their potential for therapeutic cell replacement. more
Shigella flexneri is the causative agent of Shigellosis, a severe form of bloody diarrhea which is prevalent in countries with poor sanitary conditions. Bacterial dysentery represents a severe health policy problem: Worldwide, an estimated 165 million cases of shigellosis annually occur resulting in at least 1.1 million deaths mainly among children. Shigella, which is transmitted through the fecal-oral route, is a remarkably virulent pathogen. In clinical trials, ten to a hundred bacteria are enough to trigger disease. S. flexneri is responsible for most of the infections, while infections with S. dysenteriae, the only species that produces Shigatoxin, are less common but can lead to devastating epidemics. The inflammatory response elicited by Shigella is rich in neutrophils, which are, like macrophages, effective antibacterial cells. Interestingly, neutrophils can also attack and kill Shigella extracellularly by producing net-like structures (Neutrophil Extracellular Traps, NETs). more
How can search engines be made more intelligent without sacrificing very fast query processing times? The article sketches a new, interactive search technology that was developed at the Max-Planck-Institute for Informatics, and which addresses these conflicting goals. more
We identify situations in which it is possible to decompose proof tasks in complex theories in a modular way into proof tasks for the simpler components of these theories. As they exploit modularity, such proof procedures are especially flexible and efficient and are therefore widely applicable, for instance in the verification of complex systems, but also in mathematics or knowledge representation. more
A modular approach for the quantitative (numerical and analytical) description of solid state phase transformations, which can be subdivided into three overlapping mechanisms: nucleation, growth and impingement, has been developed and successfully applied. Two kinds of transformation kinetics, called normal and abnormal, were recognized for the first time for pure iron and iron-based alloys. On the basis of a new atomistic multi-lattice Monte Carlo method the massive phase transformation can be simulated. The corresponding overall transformation activation energy is determined by a series of single atomic jumps by a group of atoms at the interface. more
Within the collaborative research initiative of the Max Planck Society "Materials and Solid-State Research at the New Neutron Source Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II)", the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research operates the novel neutron/X-ray-contrast reflectometer N-REX+ at FRM II in Garching near Munich. This instrument provides unique research possibilities for the study of surfaces, buried interfaces, thin layers, and complex multilayers on the nanoscale. This includes in particular the in-situ combination of X-ray and neutron reflectometry, as well as the novel SERGIS (spin-echo resolved grazing incidence scattering) technique. First systematic experiments for the study of the dewetting morphology on polymer films will be carried out within the next few years. At the end of 2006 the instrument N-REX+ will become available for external users. more
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