Press releases - News from the MPI of Biochemistry

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Beating Vesicles

January 29, 2019
Which criteria does a synthetically created cell have to meet to be considered alive? What are the minimal requirements for individual functions of such a cell? Questions like these drive Petra Schwille and her team at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. Now the scientists have shown that it only takes five biological building blocks to generate cell-like structures that exhibit autonomous motion while consuming energy. The discovery of these pulsating, beating vesicles came as a surprise, since initially the scientists wanted to investigate processes related to cell division. The study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition. [more]
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A Boost for Photosynthesis

January 23, 2019
Photosynthesis is a fundamental biological process which allows plants to use light energy for their growth. Most life forms on Earth are directly or indirectly dependent on photosynthesis. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany have collaborated with colleagues from the Australian National University to study the formation of carboxysomes – a structure that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis in aquatic bacteria. Their results, which were now published in Nature, could lead to the engineering of plants with more efficient photosynthesis and thus higher crop yields. [more]
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Paul Ehrlich- and Ludwig Darmstaedter-Prize for F.-Ulrich Hartl

January 16, 2019
F.-Ulrich Hartl, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, is awarded the Paul Ehrlich- and Ludwig Darmstaedter-Prize 2019 together with Arthur L. Horwich.  of Yale School of Medicine/HHMI.The biochemist Hartl and the geneticist Horwich are honored for their pioneering work in the field of cellular protein chemistry. Their collaboration helped unravel the molecular machinery that assists protein folding. The prize will be awarded on March 14 in the St. Paul‘s Church in Frankfurt and is endowed with 120,000 EUR. [more]
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Max Planck Director awarded the Bavarian Maximilian Order

December 13, 2018
Petra Schwille, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, has been awarded the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. She received the highest accolade of the Free State of Bavaria for her outstanding scientific achievements. After her groundbreaking work on the biophysics of single molecules, Petra Schwille has for several years been exploring the origin of life. With her research group she wants to construct a biological system from individual building blocks that is able to divide itself – an important step towards the primordial cell. Schwille said: “The award of the Maximilian Order is a particular honor for me, because I feel very much connected to the great scientific location of Munich and the Free State of Bavaria.”The Maximilian Order will be awarded on December 17 at the Munich Residence. [more]
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How skin cells protect themselves against mechanical stress

December 11, 2018
The skin is the largest organ in the human body and serves, among other things, to protect against physical injury. To provide such protection, skin cells must be tightly connected to each other. However, it was long unclear exactly how such mechanical stability is achieved. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry together with researchers from Stanford University (USA) have now been able to show how mechanical stress is processed at special cell anchoring points known as desmosomes. For this purpose, they developed a miniature device to measure forces across individual proteins within desmosomes. In the study published in Nature Communications, they use technology to show how mechanical forces are processed at these anchoring points. [more]
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Brenda Schulman receives the Leibniz Prize 2019

December 06, 2018
Brenda Schulman, head of the department „Molecular Machines and Signaling“ at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried receives the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2019. It comes with a funding of 2.5 million Euros. The Leibniz Prize honors her important work on the molecular mechanisms of the Ubiquitin System. „I am extremely honored to receive this award and I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the DFG and the selection committee“, says Schulman. The Leibniz-Prize will be awarded on March 13, 2019 in Berlin. [more]
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