Emeritus Scientists Continue Active Research
After reaching retirement, many scientists cannot imagine life without research – and they do not have to: Three retired directors currently lead emeritus groups at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB).
Living cells are highly complex entities built from thousands of different macromolecules with many unexplored areas. Proteins often form large complexes which play an important role, but they are fragile outside of the cells. Wolfgang Baumeister and his emeritus group investigate the architecture of proteins in their native environment and evaluate how they cooperate with other cell components.
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
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.