Emeritus Scientists Continue Active Research
After reaching retirement, many scientists cannot imagine life without research – and they do not have to: Four retired directors currently lead emeritus groups at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB).
Stable, but motile
With his emeritus group, Dr. Günther Gerisch investigates actin dynamics in cell division and in cellular transport processes. Actin is an important component of the cytoskeleton which, thanks to its flexible structure, provides form and stability to higher cells. It also supports them during changes of their shape. Gerisch studies the microorganism Dictyostelium discoideum. Its cells periodically send chemical signals in order to fuse to a multicellular structure.
There is nothing like structure
Professor Robert Huber studies protein structures and functions – and is very successful: For the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction center in a bacterium, he was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with two colleagues. Huber uses X-ray crystallography in order to resolve the three-dimensional structure of proteins down to the atomic level. He is currently studying the structures and functions of proteins of medical interest. His main focus is on proteases and immune molecules. He is also involved in drug design programmes with academic and industrial partner institutes.
From single parts to an overall concept
In order to find out more about cellular processes holistically, Professor Dieter Oesterhelt investigates salt-loving archaea. First, he enters all available information into databases. Then, a network is filtered out of it that simulates the reaction processes in the cell. In doing so, Oesterhelt was already able to correctly predict the reaction of Halobacterium salinarum to light. Now he wants to incorporate more components, so that in the future an overall model of a virtual cell can be developed.