BIMSB building

Medical Systems Biology

The Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB)


April 2021

Scaling up genome editing big in tiny worms

MDC researchers can now induce diverse genetic mutations and track their effects on a large scale in microscopic worms. The team describe their in vivo parallel genetics approach and new analysis software called crispr-DART in the journal "Cell Reports".


Shedding new light on Leigh syndrome with organoids

When the cells’ power plants don’t function properly, life expectancy is low. Otherwise, little is known about Leigh syndrome. Using organoids, researchers in Düsseldorf and Berlin have now created the first human model for studying this rare disease. They are presenting their work in “Nature Communications”.


Towards a better understanding of self-healing

Jan Philipp Junker studies how organs develop and how they regenerate after injury. To understand how this happens, he is investigating which genes in individual cells of an organ are active at any one time. Together with a fellow researcher in Dresden, he has been awarded a generous DFG Sequencing Grant for his research.

March 2021

The protein detective

All living things are built from proteins. Biologist Matthias Selbach uses the technique of mass spectrometry to understand the various functions of proteins and to systematically hunt down those that cause – or can prevent – disease.

February 2021

Analyzing single cells in space

Spatially resolved transcriptomics are changing the way we understand complex tissues, as Nature Methods wrote when it crowned the technology “Method of the Year 2020.” A SCOG virtual workshop has now provided an overview of the latest findings and developments in this exciting field.


Award for single-cell researcher Leif Ludwig

Leif S. Ludwig has received the Hector Research Career Development Award for his research into the DNA of cellular power plants, the mitochondria. The award supports particularly talented young scientists as they embark on the first steps of their research careers.

Four new groups use single-cell methods to advance medicine

A year ago, BIH, MDC and Charité launched the joint research focus "Single Cell Approaches for Personalised Medicine". Its aim is to use innovative single cell technologies to answer clinical questions. This aspiration will be put into practice by four new junior research groups, which have now started.


Januar 2021

What are you reading, Dr. Junker?

In the lab, Jan Philipp Junker is working on cell lineages. He is trying to understand how zebrafish repair their own hearts. In his spare time, he likes to read a lot. For our series "What are you reading right now?", the systems biologist takes us to the East Coast of the USA, to Boston. Not to the MIT, but to a milieu of tennis players and drug addicts.


Integration of BIH into Charité and the privileged partnership with the MDC

On January 1, 2021, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) has become the translational research unit of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and will then form – alongside the hospital and the medical faculty – Charité’s third pillar.


“Danger to the Brain” – a Urania lecture on Alzheimer’s

Neuroscience is one of Berlin’s strongest fields of research. The Berlin Brains lecture series at Urania shows the breadth and depth of this research expertise in the capital city – this year under the theme “Junior Meets Senior.” The MDC’s Thomas Willnow and Anna Löwa are kicking off the series.


How the vaccines fight the coronavirus

What side effects should I expect from the vaccines against the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus? Have they been developed too fast? To support a factual debate, our experts from the fields of immunology and RNA biology answered frequently asked questions.

Dezember 2020

Dancing spaghetti on the brain

In December 2020, biophysicist Melissa Birol joined the MDC as a new junior group leader to investigate the behavior and function of disordered proteins in brain cells.


New textbook for computational genomics

A new textbook “Computational Genomics with R” written by MDC/BIMSB's Altuna Akalin will be published this month. The book aims to assist to a wide range of readers, providing both an introduction to genomics and step-by-step instructions to help biologists analyze their own datasets.

Tissue regeneration at the single-cell level

The 13th Berlin Summer Meeting “Rising from the Ashes – Regeneration at the Single Cell Level” will take place as a Christmas Special on Dec. 10-11, 2020. The free, virtual conference will feature talks about regeneration research in animals and organoids.


November 2020

Crossing frontiers

Dr. Jakob Metzger is a physicist who has found his scientific home in developmental biology. From November, he heads the Quantitative Stem Cell Biology Lab at the MDC, pursuing an interdisciplinary approach.


A tricky kidney puzzle

By analyzing the gene expression of single cells, algorithms are able to not only reconstruct their original location in the tissue, but also to determine details about their function. Teams led by Kai Schmidt-Ott and Nikolaus Rajewsky have published their findings in JASN, using the kidney as an example.


Artificial intelligence for the medicine of tomorrow

On November 7, 2020, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and the Tagesspiegel are hosting the fifth edition of the Future Medicine Science Match. This year’s focus is “Artificial Intelligence in Translational Medicine.” MDC researcher Roland Schwarz is chair of the session on AI in basic research.

Exploring liquid droplets that enhance gene expression

The Berlin Institute of Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) will host an international, virtual workshop about condensates and phase transitions on Nov. 27, 2020.


October 2020

MDC research funded by NIH award

A large grant under the NIH’s 4D Nucleome Program supports BIMSB/MDC scientist Ana Pombo’s work as a member of a multi-team consortium led by UC San Diego in the U.S. The team will investigate how DNA organizes inside cell nuclei and functions in space and time.

Moles: Intersexual and genetically doped

Female moles not only have ovarian, but also testicular tissue that produces male sex hormones – which lets them diverge from the categorization into two sexes. A team led by Berlin researchers Stefan Mundlos and Darío Lupiáñez describes in Science which genetic modifications contribute to this singular development.


September 2020

Organoids, open science and reality TV from the lab – the MDC at the Berlin Science Week

When virologists become reality TV stars, biologists dream of life without illness, researchers debate organoids vs. animal testing with the general public, and biomedical scientists discuss the possibilities of AI, it can only be Berlin Science Week.

National Center for Tumor Diseases in Berlin

Berlin will become one of four new National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) locations in addition to Heidelberg and Dresden.

Invitation: Breaking Boundaries – Virchow 2.0

Berlin has a long tradition as a medical metropolis and also the potential to become an international hub for the life sciences, comparable to Boston. On September 28, researchers from both cities will discuss this issue with the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller

Towards a cell-based interceptive medicine in Europe

The LifeTime initiative has published a perspective in Nature and the LifeTime Strategic Research Agenda, presenting a roadmap of how to leverage the latest scientific breakthroughs and technologies over the next decade.


August 2020

Cancer’s ongoing evolution

A new algorithmic approach - developed by a team of researchers led by the BIMSB/MDC (Roland Schwarz lab), The Francis Crick Institute and the University College London - reveals individual tumors continue to evolve and remodel their genomes, and this occurs across a broad range of tumor types. Identifying changes that benefit tumors and help them metastasize could help with future treatments. Results are published in Nature.

Organoids and sequencing team up for ALS research

DC researchers Mina Gouti and Nikolaus Rajewsky received a $150,000 pilot project grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Neurodegeneration Challenge Network to investigate a defining feature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

COVID-19: Immune system derails

A severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction – rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition. This is reported in Cell by experts of the nationwide deCOI research network, including members of BIMSB's Landthaler lab.

Kerstin Radomski visits the MDC/BIMSB

Kerstin Radomski, a Bundestag member for the CDU and an expert on budgetary issues, visited the MDC/BIMSB in early August. She wanted to learn about research into diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, cancer and Covid-19, as well as about the opportunities that data science offers and the clinical application of scientific discoveries.

July 2020

Janggu makes deep learning a breeze

The group of Altuna Akalin has developed a new tool that makes it easier to maximize the power of deep learning for studying genomics. They describe the new approach, Janggu, in the journal Nature Communications

New group leader bridges math and biology

Dr. Laleh Haghverdi joins the BIMSB/MDC on July 1st to lead a new group: Computational Methodologies and Omic Analytics. She brings her expertise in finding mathematical approaches to improve single-cell, multi-omics data integration and analysis.

June 2020

Jan Philipp Junker receives Helmholtz AI grant

DC researcher Jan Philipp Junker and his collaborator Maria Colomé-Tatché at Helmholtz Center Munich have received a €200,000 grant to improve big data processing to better understand how gene networks are wired together during development and disease.

The modeler of life

Dr. Jana Wolf heads the Mathematical Modeling of Cellular Processes Lab at the MDC. On June 15 she will begin a professorship at FU Berlin . She looks forward to exchanging expertise and ideas with her new colleagues – and to leveraging this knowledge to develop new medical models.

May 2020

Joint press release by the members of the German COVID-19 OMICS Initiative (DeCOI)

Genome researchers have come together to launch the German COVID-19 OMICS Initiative (DeCOI). DeCOI combines the expertise of more than 22 institutions from across Germany to make a scientific contribution to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

MDC scientists answer COVID-19 questions

The coronavirus challenges people around the world every day. Here at the MDC, we are giving our best to help fight the pandemic. Some of our scientists took the time to think about a few of the questions surrounding SARS-CoV-2.

Project brings voluntary help into the lab ​​​​​​

LabHive is one of 1,500 projects born out of the federal government’s #WirVsVirus hackathon. Team leader Dr. Tobias Opialla of the BIMSB/MDC presents the new online platform, which is intended to bundle laboratory capacity and enable more SARS-CoV-2 tests.


April 2020

Support for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics

The LabHive digital platform aims to provide necessary resources to diagnostic centres to enable more tests for SARS-CoV-2. Tobias Opialla from the Kempa lab is one of 15 volunteers who has been involved in the project since the #WirvsVirus Hackathon organized by the German government.

Diagnostics, meet CRISPR

A new diagnostic test to quickly and easily monitor kidney transplant patients for infection and rejection relies on a simple urine sample and a powerful partner: the gene-editing technology CRISPR. Michael Kaminski, who developed it, leads a new Emmy Noether Group at the BIMSB/MDC & Charité.


March 2020

Coronavirus research at the MDC

In light of the pandemic, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) is pooling together its resources for projects that advance the understanding of SARS-CoV-2, while scaling down its regular research operations to a minimum.

State-by-state breakdown of COVID-19

The group of Matthias Selbach has developed a new online tool that displays the development of the COVID-19 epidemic in Germany clearly and by individual state as well as worldwide.


February 2020

On the trail of cancer stem cells

What goes on inside and between individual cells during the very earliest stages of tumor development? Single cell sequencing technologies and a mouse model have enabled researchers in the labs of Nikolaus Rajewsky and Walter Birchmeier to comprehensively map the cellular diversity of whole salivary gland tumors and trace the path of cancer stem cells.

Mass spectrometry for precision medicine

Research groups from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) are joining forces with other Berlin-based partners. Pooling their experience and outstanding expertise in the field of mass spectrometry, they will form a new ‘Forschungskern’ or ‘research core’.

A close-up look at mutated DNA in cancer cells

PCAWG, the largest cancer research consortium in the world, has set itself the task of improving our understanding of genetic mutations in tumors. A new study by the international research group, to which the group of Roland Schwarz substantially contributed, is now being published in the journal Nature. 

BIH, MDC und Charité launch a new research focus

Single cell technologies for Personalized Medicine – The Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin are launching a joint research initiative.


  • BIMSB group leader recruitments continue 

On February 24th, 13 competitively selected candidates are presenting their work and their vision for the prospective research groups on ‘Advanced Imaging Applications for Systems Biology’ and ‘Computational or Theoretical Approaches for Deciphering Human Disease Data’. 


Recruitment Symposium “Single Cell goes Clinical”

Scientific Kick-off of the New Clinical Focus Area "Single Cell Technologies for Personalized Medicine”

Feb 6, 2020, 9 am – 6:40 pm in the large BIMSB conference room

The new focus area "Single Cell Technologies for Personalized Medicine", jointly established by BIH, MDC/BIMSB and Charité, aims at building bridges between basic and clinical research to take single cell technologies into the clinic. For this purpose, we are recruiting three junior group leaders striving to bring single cell expertise into clinical application.

The future research groups will be located on the top floor of the BIMSB building, and will investigate human diseases at the single cell level in order to develop new methods for improved prevention, diagnosis and therapy. Each group will closely collaborate with a clinical department at the Charité, developing single cell approaches that address specific medical needs and establishing technologies for clinical use.

The recruitment symposium also constitutes the scientific kick-off of the new clinical focus area. Researchers, clinicians and interested parties from BIH, MDC/BIMSB, Charité and elsewhere are warmly invited to come together to exchange information, network and plan joint projects.