Department of Molecular Biology



November 8

Our institute hosts Kim Nasmyth for a Bonhoeffer Award Lecture.

November 7

Patrick Cramer gives Weigle Lecture in Geneva, where early molecular biology was done.

November 6

Congratulations to Lucas Farnung and Hauke Hillen for passing their PhD exams!

November 4

From now on, updates will be shared on twitter.

November 1

Nature published our milestone structure of the 46-subunit, ~2 MDa transcription initiation complex with TFIIH and core Mediator. Link to article.

October 31

DNA alkylation stops transcription using a novel mechanism that we discovered in a collaboration with the Sturla lab. Link to article.

October 27

The program for the new Genome Science Lecture Series is out. View program.

October 25

At our 12th lab retreat we hosted seven external speakers in Hamburg and defined our strategy for 2018.

October 22

The Göttingen Max Planck Institutes host another great speaker at the Literature Festival, Patrick Kingsley (New York Times) who describes current migration to Europe.

October 12

Cell published our mechanism of replication-transcription switching in mitochondria that we elucidated in collaboration with the Temiakov laboratory. Link to article.

October 11

Nature published our nucleosome-Chd1 structure that suggests a model for DNA translocation by chromatin remodeling enzymes. Link to article.

October 10

Our new eLife paper shows that polymerase pausing controls transcription initiation. Link to article.

October 4

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for the development of cryo-electron microscopy, congratulations! Link to press release.

September 29

Göttingen Research Campus advances in national competition for excellence clusters. Link to press release.

September 15

Our institute hosted Jennifer Doudna for a Bonhoeffer Award Lecture on CRISPR systems. Link to press release.

September 13

Congratulations to former lab member Alessandro Vannini who obtained tenure at ICR London! Link to press release.

September 12

Our structure of human DSIF bound to transcribing RNA polymerase II is out. Link to article.

August 23

Congratulations to Carrie Bernecky who obtained an Assistsant Professorship at IST Austria in Vienna! Link to press release.

August 16

Our 'expressome' appears in Miller spreads from 1970. Link to article.

August 2

Our team wins the institute's volleyball tournament.

June 28

Edith Heard selected as next Director-General of EMBL. Link to press release.

June 7

We now located the chromatin transcription factor Paf1 complex on one side of RNA polymerase II:

May 29

Sofia Battaglia, Carina Demel and Tobias Gubbey passed their PhD exams, congratulations and all the best for the future!

May 24

Our new paper uses several 'omics' techniques to reveal a critical role of nascent RNA in coordinating the transcription cycle:

May 12

JMB published our reflection on the history and future of molecular biology on the occasion of John Kendrew's 100th birthday:

May 3

Nature published our 15-subunit core Mediator structure that leads to an extended transcription initiation complex model:

April 26

Christoph Wigge and Dietmar Riedel organized a symposium to inaugurate the new Titan electron microscope. More information

April 25

Our latest review summarizes the current understanding of the conserved Pol II initiation complex structure:

April 22

We support the global March for Science.

April 18

Science published our work on the 'expressome' that visualizes the central dogma of molecular biology:

April 11

New EMBL site in Barcelona opened! More information.

April 3

We are co-organizing the Eukaryotic Transcription Meeting at Cold Spring Harbor this summer and the speaker list is out.

March 23

Cell just published our paper on Pol I initiation that suggests a basis for promoter recognition:

March 18

Our new paper defines the critical transition at the end of genes:

March 9

Our latest paper shows how to map enhancer landscapes with high temporal resolution:

March 6

The new IMPRS for Genome Science goes public:

February 16

Patrick Cramer joins the University of Göttingen as honorary professor.

February 13

Patrick Cramer joins the Editorial Advisory Board of Molecular Systems Biology.

February 1

Our coordinator for the new International Max Planck Research School for Genome Science, Henriette Irmer, started today, welcome!

January 25

Simon Neyer and Youwei Xu passed their PhD exams, congratulations!

January 20

10 years after the Nobel Prize: our general review is out at



December 8

We host Torben Heick-Jensen as our Christmas speaker.

December 8

Congratulations to our close colleagues Jörg Vogel and Karl-Peter Hopfner on being awarded the Leibniz Prize 2017, the most important science prize in Germany!

December 1

Svetlana Dodonova receives an EMBO long-term fellowship, many congratulations!

November 21

We received funding to set up a new International Max Planck Research School for Genome Science.

November 14

Merle Hantsche passes her PhD exam, many congratulations"

November 14

Our collaborative paper with the Frangakis lab is out at Nature:

October 24

Our 11th annual lab retreat in Berlin hosts 7 external speakers.

September 5

Congratulations to Margaux Michel on passing her PhD exam!

August 1

Patrick Cramer receives the Centenary Award of the British Biochemical Society. The award medal will be given at the 80th Harden Conference at Macclesfield, UK.

July 15

Felix Wagner receives Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds PhD Fellowship, congratulations!

June 15

Clemens Plaschka receives the Otto Hahn Medal in Saarbrücken.

Link to press release (in German).

June 3

Our paper on TT-Seq is out in Science, see the press release here.

May 11

Our paper on initiation complex structure (Plaschka, Hantsche et al.) is out at Nature!

May 2

Philipp Eser and Benedikt Zacher receive their PhD, congratulations!

April 15

Our lab will be funded again with an Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council, ERC. We will receive a total of Euro 2.5 Mio during 2016-2021.
Link to Press Release (in German).

February 24

We co-organize a symposium on biological networks in Berlin.          

February 8

Congratulations to former lab member Claus Kuhn who will receive a prestigious award (Paul Ehrlich- und Ludwig Darmstaedter Nachwuchspreis) on March 14 in Frankfurt. The two other awardees are Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna (Paul Ehrlich- und Ludwig Darmstaedter Preis).

January 20

Our paper on the first mammalian RNA polymerase structure (Carrie Bernecky et al.) is out at Nature.

January 1

Patrick Cramer takes up chair of EMBL council.

January 1

Patrick Cramer joins the Editorial Board of "Cell".



November 25-26

We co-organize workshop on the future of structural biology in Berlin. [more]           

November 18

Clemens Plaschka receives prestigous "Kulturpreis Bayern" of the Bayernwerk AG.

November 17

Goran Kokic is awarded a Boehringer Ingelheim PhD Student Fellowship.    

November 10

Paulina Seweryn is awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship.

October 8

We're hosting the KFB lecture by Nick Proudfoot (University of Oxford).

September 30

Jürgen Niesser and David Pöllman receive their PhD, congratulations.

August 31

Patrick Cramer gives Sumner Lecture.

July 21

Wolfgang Mühlbacher receives his PhD, congratulations!

July 1

Anna Sawicka takes on EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship.

June 1

Katja Fruehauf and Michael Lidschreiber start as first team members at our sattelite lab in Stockholm.

May 22

Christoph Engel receives prestigious ‘Promotionspreis’ of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM).


Together with colleagues at the institute, we assure funding for a new Titan electron microscope with K2 and Falcon-III cameras, to be set up in 2016

March 19

Patrick Cramer receives Arthur Burkhardt Prize. (Click here for more information)

February 5

Our Nature article on the Pol II-Mediator core initiation complex by Clemens Plaschka et al. is published. (Click here to view the article)

January 21

The lab obtained additional funding within the SFB860 research network ‘Integrative Structural Biology of Dynamic Macromolecular Complexes’

January 1

Livia Caizzi takes on EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship

January 1

Patrick Cramer starts as guest professor at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm:



December 5

Carlo Bäjen receives award for his PhD work by the Dr. Klaus Römer Foundation

November 20

Review on the occasion of the 100th birthday of crystallography published. (Click here to view the article)

October 1

Hauke Hillen takes on Boehringer Ingelheim PhD Student Fellowship.

July 1

Seychelle Vos takes on EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship.

June 30

The lab obtains additional funding by the Lower Saxonian Ministry for Science and Culture (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur) to extend functional genomics efforts.

April 1

First group members from our Munich lab start at MPIbpc.

January 1

Patrick Cramer starts as director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

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