Dr. Martin Beck becomes director at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics

Dr. Martin Beck, © M. Beck

15 January 2019

We are very pleased to announce that Martin Beck from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg will join the Max Planck Society as Scientific Member. As director at the MPI of Biophysics, he will build up the new Department "Molecular Sociology".

Martin Beck is a leading expert in the field of integrative structural biology, which combines different methods such as cryo-electron microscopy and mass spectrometry with biochemistry to analyze the structure of macromolecules inside cells. He applied these methods to nuclear pores. These macromolecular machines are responsible for the communication between the cell nucleus and the cytoplasm.

Martin Beck did his doctoral thesis work in Professor Wolfgang Baumeister’s Department for Molecular Structural Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. Already at this time Martin Beck studied the three-dimensional structure of nuclear pores with the help of cryo-electron tomography. After obtaining his doctorate in 2006 he moved as a postdoc to the laboratory of Professor Ruedi Aebersold at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), one of the pioneers of proteomics research. He developed new integrative methods for quantitative analyses of the macromolecular composition and architecture of cells.

Since 2010 Martin Beck is a research group leader of the group "Structure and function of large macromolecular assemblies" at the EMBL in Heidelberg. With the support of two ERC Grants (2013 and 2018) his research team could record the composition and structure of human nuclear pores in detail and characterize cell type-specific differences thereof. Additionally, the biogenesis of nuclear pore components was investigated during Drosophila melanogaster oogenesis. It was shown that nuclear pores are passed on to the next generation by the mother in order to support early embryonic development.

The traditional concept of molecules that randomly collide inside of cells to engage in biochemical reactions is obsolete. The term "Molecular Sociology“ refers to the study of both long lasting and short term interactions of molecules inside of cells that are important to organize them into functional modules. Martin Beck and his team will use biophysical methods to investigate these molecular relationships.

Website: Martin Beck, EMBL


Max Planck Institute of Biophysics

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