Max Planck Institute – MPI

The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden is one of the world’s leading institutes in the field of molecular cell and developmental biology. It was established in 1998 by the Max Planck Society, which is Germany’s leading non-profit research organisation promoting first and foremost basic research, and started its activities in Dresden in 2001. By founding the MPI-CBG just after the first four eukaryotic genomes had been sequenced, including the human genome, the Max Planck Society responded to a new challenge in biological research: molecular cell biology in the post-genomic era. Research at the MPI-CBG focuses on the structure and dynamic organization of cells and tissues in several model organisms with a view towards understanding cellular function, how cells forms tissues, the molecular basis of tissue morphogenesis and development, and the molecular basis of cell and tissue specialisation. Research groups at MPI-CBG adopt biochemical, biophysical, structural, genetic, and developmental or systems approaches to provide the maximum insight into their respective research questions.

The institute structure is designed to promote communication, interaction, and synergy. Six research groups headed by the institute directors Prof. Anthony Hyman (Cell Biology, Genetics), Developmental Biology), Prof. Wieland Huttner (Neurobiology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology), Prof. Elisabeth Knust (Cell Biology), Dr. Eugene Myers (Managing Director, Systems Biology), and Prof. Marino Zerial (Cell Biology, Developmental Biology), as well as one emeritus group headed by Prof. Kai Simons (Cell Biology) and about 15 groups headed by non-tenured group leaders form a closely connected scientific and methodological network.

These research groups fill in different aspects of the common areas of research being pursued at the institute and are independently but flexibly integrated. The structure is designed such that the research group leaders and directors, together with the leaders of the scientific services and facilities (see below), provide the latest insights from the perspective of technologies, form a research faculty with a minimum of hierarchy so that the combined intellectual potential can be fully exploited and enhanced.

In 2017, MPI-CBG together with TU Dresden and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems established the new Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD) on site with the MPI-CBG. This new center serves as a concentration and collaborative hub for cutting edge expertise and capabilities in predictive theoretical modelling, computational simulation techniques, automated image segmentation platforms, bioinformatic analysis, and machine learning approaches to big data.

Carl D. Modes

Dr. Carl D. Modes is a Research Group Leader with the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) and with the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD). Since 2017 he heads a research group focused on tackling problems related to network complexity and systems biophysics across many biological, biophysical, and biomedical contexts. He would be a first-time participant to FET under Horizon 2020. He received his PhD in 2008 from the University of Pennsylvania in theoretical soft condensed matter physics under Prof. Randall Kamien and completed postdoctoral work from 2008-2011 at the University of Cambridge under Prof. Mark Warner modelling shape-programmable liquid crystal solids and from 2011-2017 at The Rockefeller University under Prof. Marcelo Magnasco modelling three-dimensional distribution networks.

Of particular relevance, his work has been at the forefront of recent advances in shape programmable soft materials, playing a central role in the invention and development of thin sheet nematic solid systems that can be “blueprinted” with pre-determined nematic director fields that give rise to externally switchable, reversible shape change, potentially at the sub-micron scale. These systems lend themselves to a panoply of device design opportunities relevant to systems biology, biophysics, and medical applications, including soft robotics, drug delivery and encapsulation methods, peristaltic pumps and gateway switching for lab-on-a-chip and soft microfluidics. Furthermore, the theory and methods underlying these shape programmable materials may serve as a powerful model for complex shape determination in developing biological systems as well.