Research Groups


Anniversary: 5 years BMLS at Riedberg

The Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) at the Goethe University celebrated its fifth anniversary on 2 June 2016. On the occasion of this event the latest research results were presented as a part of the German-Israeli Symposium.

June 2016. The day started with a scientific symposium which was fireworks of outstanding science! All presentations were met by enthusiasm from the audience, so that the listeners who had to sit on the steps didn’t repent their coming and remained until the last minute.

The ceremony, which took place in the afternoon, was held in a marquee on the meadow with spring flowers and the approximately 200 guests could enjoy the view of the red building – the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Science (BMLS). The Institute was founded as part of the Cluster of Excellence “Macromolecular Complexes” (CEF), at the Goethe University, shortly after the German Council of Science and Humanities had recommended the funding of a research building for the Cluster. In 2011 the first research groups moved in.

In the ceremony the Hessian State Secretary emphasized the pride of the BMLS and the Frankfurt Clusters of Excellence. The President of the Goethe University, the Treasurer of Frankfurt, the CEF Speaker and the Director of the BMLS as well as the researchers thanked the state government and the Buchmann Family for their continued generous support, which enables young researchers to start and organize independently their academic future. They also expressed their intention to promote outstanding research at the Institute in the future.

Scientific symposium fascinated the listeners

At the symposium researchers from Israel and from BMLS presented their research and discussed these with the audience. The first talk was given by Ivan Dikic. He made parallels between some molecular processes in the human brain and processes in bacteria, such as processes of quality control and disposal of proteins in cells.

Yosef Shiloh of the Tel Aviv University described his research on genome stability of the major DNA repair gene. He analyzed how mutations affect radio-sensitivity and aging.

Nir Keren from the Hebrew University reported on his work to photosynthesis in specific bacteria that exist in extreme conditions in deserts and play an important role for the stability of the sensitive ecosystem.

Amparo Acker-Palmer from BMLS summarized the research of her group for signal processing in controlling the networking of nerves and blood vessels in the brain in her presentation.

Christian Pohl from BMLS explored the processes that can arise from an egg cell different tissues and body parts. In his presentation, he described how the egg of the nematode C. elegans developed the body axis during the early cell division.

Deborah Fass from the Weizmann Institute spoke about the catalysts, which make up the space between the cells, the extracellular matrix.

The symposium ended with the presentation of Prof. Achilleas Frangakis from BMLS who described the fantastic possibilities of modern electron tomography. Excerpts from his research showed the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of cell to cell connections as in the closure of skin openings and filtering processes in the kidney.


The Ceremony

City treasurer Uwe Becker conveyed the greetings from the City of Frankfurt, emphasizing that the Riedberg Campus is one of the three pillars of science city Frankfurt. Becker compared the topic of the BMLS and CEF, exploring macromolecular complexes in cells, with the view of the universe to earth: it is also highly complex, diverse and effective!

Professor Birgitta Wolff, President of the Goethe University Frankfurt, looked back on the history of the Goethe University, a long tradition of civil engagement. She thanked the state government and the Buchmann family for their continuous generous support and pointed out that the statement by Dr hc Josef Buchmann "I had ideas, I was hard-working and I wanted to become independent" were exactly about the BMLS.

The State Secretary of the Hessian Ministry of Science and Arts and Member of Parliament, Ingmar Jung, called the BMLS and the Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes an "absolute success story" and emphasized: "We are proud to have such leading institutions in the field of molecular life sciences in Hesse. It is an important task of the Hessian state government to strengthen cutting-edge research at the universities and other research institutions." He paid tribute to Josef Buchmann and utmost respect for his contribution to international understanding and cooperation in science.

The speaker of the Cluster of Excellence “Macromolecular Complexes” (CEF), Professor Volker Dötsch also thanked the Buchmann family and the state government. He pointed out that the most important part of the Excellence Initiative is the role as an engine of structural change. Thus the earlier independence of young researchers has become possible and appointment processes could be realized more efficient. Volker Dötsch emphasized that the BMLS is a wonderful example of what a great contribution of these structural changes have made for the international visibility. However, he also expressed some critical words about the current science system and criticized the extreme multitasking demands on today's professors, because there is still not enough courage to differentiate the professors in research and teaching professorships.

Professor Enrico Schleiff, Director of the BMLS, looked back on the history of the Institute and gave a short abstract of what the Institute is nowadays: it now consists of 13 “inhouse” research groups, most of them are junior research groups, and 7 affiliated groups. BMLS is a very international team with scientists from more than 25 nations. Junior group leaders are embedded as independent actors in the open culture of the Institute and BMLS group leaders show that cutting-edge research and family are not mutually exclusive. The Institute reports directly to the Executive Board of the University and is characterized by a department structure, which allows the joint use of equipment and facilities.

The aim of the research at BMLS is the development of innovative methods, to encourage new ideas and to work in an interdisciplinary way on the processes that manifest the functional and structural dynamics of cells and the regulation and organization of cellular networks. Three priorities are at the center of the work, which build on each other and mutually complementary: the signal integration, quality control, and the remodeling of structures.

On behalf of all members of BMLS Enrico Schleiff thanked the state government, the university management and CEF for the clear commitment to excellent research, also in view of the forthcoming Excellence Initiative. Without their support the research at BMLS would not have been and will not be possible! He acknowledged the contributions of the pioneers and expressed his thanks to Professor Ivan Dikic for his commitment and dedication as founding Director of the Institute. As a symbol of solidarity he handed the Buchmann family a model of the Institute. An honorary BMLS-membership has been given to Professor Jürgen Bereiter-Hahn, former vice president of Goethe University and one of the „fathers“ of the BMLS. He also presented the first edition of the BMLS brochure.

Also three young BMLS researchers have their say. They benefit from the exchange with the other groups and by the joint activity which allows the institute.

PhD student Isabell Smyrek compared the "I belong to" feeling at BMLS with her time in Oxford. She hopes that the autonomous organization of scientific and non-scientific events by doctoral students will persist.

Postdoctoral fellow Dr Harald Hofbauer stressed that the BMLS is not only a technically well-equipped institute, where the highly relevant issues are addressed, but also a great place, where the young scientists get optimal opportunities to their scientific development. Moreover, the direct closeness to colleagues from different disciplines helps to avoid the tunnel vision, which can be so easily developed.

Junior Professor Robert Ernst described the positive and challenging aspects of building a separate, independent research group. It is an exciting time in BMLS, where experienced colleagues are always on hand to help. The BMLS became him a home, and not only him! He pointed out that many young colleagues in such an atmosphere learn the security that is necessary to found a family.

The official speech was given by Professor Joseph Klafter, President of the University of Tel Aviv. The Goethe University has long and close relationship with the University of Tel Aviv and the Buchmann family. Professor Klafter congratulated the University on the great research institute and on the possibility that is given by the Institute to the young scientists to do their research independently.

The ceremony was accompanied by the music of Marek Herz & Olga Zaitseva.

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