Lab coats

News in 2018

December 2018

Tracking development cell by cell is ‘Breakthrough of the Year’

From at least the time of Hippocrates, biologists have been transfixed by the mystery of how a single cell develops into an adult animal with multiple organs and billions of cells. The ancient Greek physician hypothesized that moisture from a mother’s breath helps shape a growing infant, but now we know it is DNA that ultimately orchestrates the processes by which cells multiply and specialize. Now, just as a music score indicates when strings, brass, percussion, and woodwinds chime in to create a symphony, a combination of technologies is revealing when genes in individual cells switch on, cueing the cells to play their specialized parts. The result is the ability to track development of organisms and organs in stunning detail, cell by cell and through time. Science is recognizing that combination of technologies, and its potential for spurring advances in basic research and medicine, as the 2018 Breakthrough of the Year.

Full article: Science, Dec 20th 2019

© Agnieszka Rybak Wolf (AG Nikolaus Rajewsky am BIMSB), MDC


October 2018

11th Berlin Summer Meeting

We celebrated the 11th Berlin Summer Meeting - Grand BIMSB Opening Symposium with the three days filled with exciting science, covering topics that reflect our research at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology. Here are some snapshots!

© David Ausserhofer, MDC


May 2018

Ana Pombo elected EMBO Member.

Time to celebrate in the Pombo Lab! EMBO just elected 62 outstanding life scientists to its membership, joining a group of more than 1800 of the best researchers in Europe and around the world. The members are actively involved in the execution of the organization’s initiatives by serving on EMBO Council, Committees and Editorial Boards, by evaluating applications for EMBO funding, by mentoring young scientists and by providing suggestions and feedback on activities.


April 2018

Stephan Preibisch receives Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Grant.

The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) has provided 900,000 US dollars in funding for a project that uses machine learning, high-throughput methods, and automated image recognition to shed light on the function of enhancer sequences. The project is being led by Professor Nicolas Gompel of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and involves the collaboration of Dr. Stephan Preibisch from the Berlin Institute of Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), and Prof. Remo Rohs from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

The researchers are working to decipher the code for the basic functions of enhancer DNA regions so that they can eventually “program” their own artificial enhancers. The researchers are focusing on the so-called spot enhancer, which acts on the yellow gene and influences pigmentation patterns on the wings of fruit flies. As part of the project, BIMSB researcher Stephan Preibisch will place thousands of wings of genetically modified Drosophila flies under the microscope and produce automated scans, which he will then analyze and classify with the help of machine learning. These flies come from the laboratory of evolutionary biologist Nicolas Gompel, who breeds the insects while systematically changing the DNA sequence of the spot enhancer. The generated data will then be fed into Remo Rohs’ mathematical model, which uses bioinformatic methods to reveal how DNA and proteins interact – taking into account the three-dimensional structure of DNA – to influence gene activity. Together, the team is developing artificial intelligence that can connect differences in wing pigmentation to the underlying systematic changes made to the DNA and thus make predictions about the properties of synthetic genetic enhancers.


March 2018

2018 MDC "BOOST" idea competition goes to Christin Sünkel and Nikolaos Karaiskos

Christin Sünkel and Nikolaos Karaiskos are this year's winners of "BOOST" - the MDC idea competition for innovative ideas for commercialization. The award provides the duo with coaching and funding for developing a new single-cell RNA sequencing technique to facilitate tumor biology research.

The aim of BOOST is to encourage development of innovative ideas and early-stage projects that still require a proof of the idea or verification of their feasibility. The competition focuses primarily on the idea’s originality and its competitive advantage. Participation gives you early and vital feedback, access to coaching and financial support for the validation of your idea.Winners receive coaching and funding up to 40.000 € for their project.

March 2018

CORBEL launches 2nd Open Call for Research Projects

BIMSB is excited to be participating in the CORBEL 2nd Open Call for research projects. CORBEL is looking for innovative research projects at the interface between different biomedical and life science fields requiring service provision from multiple research infrastructures

Are you working on a complex research project in need of multiple, different technologies? Would you benefit from access to state-of-the-art research infrastructures and services that are not available in your current research environment? Would integrated access to multiple research infrastructures take your research project to the next level?

If the answer is YES, participation in the CORBEL Open Call can help to boost your results!

For the second time, the CORBEL partners launched an Open Call and thereby offer to all academic and industrial scientists in Europe the chance to accelerate their research project. Through defined pipelines, called Access Tracks, high-end technologies and  services offered by more than 20 CORBEL partner institutes from 10 participating research infrastructures, including the Bioinformatics platform of the BIMSB, will be made accessible to interested scientists.

Successful applicants will have the unique opportunity to access multiple research infrastructures with just one application. Available services are grouped into five different Access Tracks:

(1) Genotype-to-phenotype analysis, (2) Predictive systems pharmacology for safer drugs and chemical products, (3) Structure-function analysis of large protein complexes, (4) Marine metazoan developmental models (5) Complex multimodal biomarker profiling

Importantly, the grouping of services into Access Tracks is flexible, and also alternative combinations can be requested! Costs for travel to partner sites will be reimbursed by CORBEL and access to service providers will be granted without access fee (extra costs for consumables may apply). Projects will be supported at every stage, with CORBEL project managers helping scientists to navigate between different service providers and exploit the full potential of the offers available.

Proposal submission for the 2nd CORBEL Open Call for research projects is now open. For more information, please visit the project website (


February 2018

LifeTime, a visionary proposal for an EU Flagship

Nikolaus Rajewsky (BIMSB) and Geneviève Almouzni (Institut Curie, Paris) jointly coordinate LifeTime, a proposal for a EU flagship with the aim to follow and ultimately predict the course of diseases with the help of single cell technologies.

For more information see: