50 years of successful independent junior research

The Friedrich Miescher Laboratory celebrates its anniversary

This year, two special events coincide at the Tübingen research location. 150 years ago, Friederich Miescher discovered human genetic material at Tübingen Castle and revolutionised biological research. At the same time, he became the named patron of the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory at the Max Planck Campus in 1969. Tübingen thus became the germ cell of basic biochemical research twice and produced great names and Nobel Prize winners.

One of the central challenges in the late 1960s was the discovery that more and more researchers in Germany were leaving the country to pursue careers abroad. In order to counteract this trend, the aim was to create structures and development opportunities that were at least on a par with those abroad.

It should be possible to conduct research without hierarchy or thematic restrictions, and young scientists should be able to fully exploit their professional potential in self-governing research groups. Early expectations and hopes were quickly exceeded.

In the meantime, the laboratory can look back on eight successful generations of researchers and 34 research groups. Its members include well-known names such as Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for her research into the genetic control of embryonic development. One of the founding fathers of the institute, Rolf Knippers, created an initial publication on molecular genomics that is now a definite book for students worldwide.

Currently, four international research groups at the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory, represented by Andrei Lupas as Managing Director, are working door-to-door with the Max Planck Institutes of Developmental Biology, Biological Cybernetics and Intelligent Systems. State-of-the-art equipment meets the unrestrained thirst for research of the young scientists working here, who ensure a lively atmosphere and intensive exchange with joint projects and seminars.

And new young scientists are already in the starting blocks: Two programmes to promote scientific talent currently enable more than 100 researchers to complete their doctoral theses on central questions of basic research in the life sciences. The International Max Planck Research Group "From Molecules to Organisms" and the International PhD Programme in the Biological Sciences provide numerous career opportunities for a stable future and continuous expansion at Tübingen as a research location.