Public Relations

Ernst Bamberg receives Rumford Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Prof.Dr. Ernst Bamberg

11 April 2019
Ernst Bamberg, long-term Director of the Department of Biophysical Chemistry has received together with Ed Boyden (Boston, USA), Karl Deisseroth (Stanford, USA), Peter Hegemann (Berlin), Gero Miesenböck (Oxford, UK), and Georg Nagel (Würzburg) the renowned Rumford Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It is the oldest prize (since 1839) awarded by the Academy. 

The scientists received the award in "recognition of their extraordinary contributions to the discovery and development of optogenetics".  The award ceremony took place on 11 April 2019 at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge (MA, USA).

From the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:

“A storied science prize that was awarded to Thomas Edison in 1895 for his work in electric lighting; Edwin Land in 1945 for his applications in polarized light and photography; Enrico Fermi in 1953 for his studies of radiation theory and nuclear energy; and Federico Capasso and Alfred Cho in 2015 for their contributions to the field of laser technology will next be awarded to Ernst Bamberg, Ed Boyden, Karl Deisseroth, Peter Hegemann, Gero Miesenböck, and Georg Nagel in recognition of their extraordinary contributions related to the invention and refinement of optogenetics.

First awarded in 1839, the Rumford Prize given by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences recognizes contributions to the fields of heat and light. The Rumford Prize will next be presented during the Academy’s Annual Awards Ceremony on April 11, 2019, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Named “Breakthrough of the Decade” in 2010 by the journal Science, the field of optogenetics has furthered the fundamental scientific understanding of how specific cell types contribute to the function of biological tissues. On the clinical side, optogenetics-driven research has led to insights into Parkinson’s disease and other neurological and psychiatric disorders, as well as autism, schizophrenia, drug abuse, anxiety, and depression.

As Lucia Rothman-Denes, a member of the Academy’s Prize Committee and the A.J. Carlson Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago, stated, “Optogenetics has revolutionized the field of neuroscience,” and added “the work undertaken by these scientists has had a profound impact on cell biology and, most recently, microbiology in ways that advance our understanding of science and of health.”
“On behalf of the American Academy, I am pleased to present the Rumford Prize to Professors Bamberg, Boyden, Deisseroth, Hegemann, Miesenböck, and Nagel for their achievements,” said David W. Oxtoby, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “Along with Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and others, they are part of a distinguished lineage of scientists who have been honored by the Academy.”

Further information:

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

Ivan Dikic appointed as MAX PLANCK FELLOW

Prof. Dr. Ivan Đikić

October 2018, we are happy to share our knowledge and infrastructure with Prof. Ivan Đikić.

Ivan Đikić is appointed as MAX PLANCK FELLOW at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics

The molecular biologist and biochemist Ivan Đikić, Director of the Institute of Biochemistry II at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, has been appointed as Fellow of the Max Planck Society. He started his term at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in October 2018.
The Max Planck Fellow Programme promotes cooperation between outstanding university professors and Max Planck Society researchers.
The appointment as Max Planck Fellow entails the supervision of a small working group at a Max Planck Institute for a five years term.
Research in the Đikić group is centered around two major cellular quality control pathways: the ubiquitin system and autophagy. As such they provide protection against various human diseases and are involved in almost all cellular signaling processes. The group covers a wide range of expertise to reveal structure-function relationships. Recently, the Đikić Molecular Signaling Group revealed a novel ubiquitination mechanism induced by bacterial enzymes upon infection of human cells. In collaboration with colleagues at the Frankfurt Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, the group now aims to resolve additional atomic details of this serine ubiquitination. A second area of mutual interest is in remodeling of endoplasmic reticulum via a process known as ER-phagy. Until now, very little is known about the mechanisms facilitating membrane targeting, bending and shaping during this selective form of autophagy.
In addition, Ivan Đikić aims to also build strong links to the highly competitive cancer research programme at Goethe University. He is one of the founders of the Frankfurt Cancer Institute (FCI), which has recently received significant funding for building up a LOEWE center and a new research building.
Professor Đikić was honoured with numerous prizes including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2013 (DFG), two European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine and the German Cancer Prize (Deutscher Krebspreis) by the German Cancer Society.
Ivan Đikić is deeply committed towards education of the next generation of scientists and to communication of science to the public. He sustains strong links to his homeland Croatia, where his efforts in both education and communication have been recognized by the highest civilian honour, The Order of Duke Branimir, bestowed by the President of Croatia.

Link to his research:
Molecular Signaling Group


Max Planck Institute of Biophysics

Public Relations

Dipl.-Chem. Brigitte Holfelder

Max-von-Laue-Straße 3
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 (0) 69 6303-3020

Institute profile