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Medical Genomics Laboratory Officially Opened in the Presence of Berlin’s Governing Mayor Wowereit

In the presence of the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, the Laboratory for Medical Genome Research was officially opened on Friday, June 30, 2006 on the Campus Berlin-Buch. Germany’s Research Minister, Dr. Annette Schavan, had to cancel her visit due to a debate in the Bundestag, the German Parliament. The building was erected as a joint undertaking by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP). In doing so, the two institutions have created the prerequisite for bringing together different approaches in genome research, i.e. the systematic search for disease-related genes and the study of the function of genes and their products, the proteins. This research is crucial for the development of new treatment concepts. The building, which was designed by the Berlin architect Volker Staab and constructed at a cost of about 19 million euros, was financed with 56 per cent (10.6 million euros) of funds coming from the European Funds for Regional Development (EFRD). The remaining circa 8.4 million euros were provided by the Federal Government of Germany with a grant of 6.5 million euros and the State of Berlin with 1.9 million euros.

The building is named after the Russian geneticist Nikolai

Wladimirovich Timoféeff-Ressovsky*, who worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute

for Brain Research in Berlin-Buch from 1930 to 1945. He is considered to be one

of the founders of molecular genetics along with Max Delbrück, after whom the

MDC was named.

Prior to the symbolic handing over of the keys to the

Scientific Directors of MDC and FMP, the sculpture of Timoféeff-Ressovsky,

created by the Berlin sculptor Stefan Kaehne in 2006, was unveiled in front of

the building. During the festivities, the MDC and the FMP also celebrated the

75th anniversary of medical-biological research in Berlin-Buch. The Kaiser

Wilhelm Institute in Berlin-Buch was officially opened on June 2, 1931 in the

presence of Max Planck.

Prof. Walter Birchmeier, the MDC’s Scientific Director,

honoured the huge contributions of the Federal Government, the Land of Berlin,

and the European Union made to for the Berlin-Buch Campus. “They have invested

into this Campus about 237 Million Euros”, he pointed out. “This has made it

possible to transform this Campus into a highly modern, internationally

competitive research place, as we can see today with the new Laboratory for

Medical Genome Research”.

“The Campus has an excellent basis to combine the

unravelling of the origin of disease with the development of new therapeutical

concepts”, Prof. Walter Rosenthal, Director of FMP pointed out. Contributing to

this concept is the new laboratory building. He thanked the architects from the

office (Architekturbüro) Volker Staab and continued: “The Timoféeff-Ressovsky

Building is perhaps the most attractive one on the campus – the highlight of

all of the construction that has been going on during the past 15 years and

which has made this campus what it is today: a modern, interational research

campus with an excellent infrastructure.”

The keynote speeches were held by the neurobiologist Prof.

Thomas Jentsch, director of the Institute for Molecular Neuropathobiology

Hamburg (HMNH), who was recently appointed to a W3 professorship at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin in

cooperation with the FMP, and the bioinformatician Prof. Nikolaus Rajewsky,

formerly of New York University (New York, USA), likewise appointed to a W3

professorship at MDC. Both will have their laboratories in the new building.

Prof. Jentsch, whose research group is equally funded by

the FMP and the MDC, spoke on “Function explained by dysfunction: Diseases

provide insight into the role of ion

transport”. His research in this area has contributed to our understanding as

to how different diseases are caused and how they develop. Prof. Rajewsky gave

a lecture on “New treatment options? Tiny human genes regulate thousands of

target genes“. He developed a high throughput method identifying the sites in

the genome to which very small RNA molecules bind and ultimately regulate the

production of proteins.

The four-story genomics research center has approximately

3,200 m² of floor space. After two years of construction, it was completed this

year. Located within the building is the Gene Mapping Center, which the MDC

founded several years ago within the framework of the German Human Genome

Project with funds of the German Research Ministry. In the special laboratory,

which has state-of-the-art technical equipment, scientists identify genes that

are involved in the development of diseases by means of high-throughput

procedures. This research is integrated into the National Genome Research

Network 2 (NGFN2). It is closely connected with MDC’s proteome research and is

of great significance for linking clinical and basic research.

Also located within the new building is the “Protein

Structure Factory” of the German Human Genome Project (


) and of Berlin structural biologists, in which the MDC and the


FMP are also engaged. The project is aimed at analyzing the spatial structure

of proteins using high-throughput methods. In addition, the FMP runs its

“Academic Screening Unit” in the building. Here, in a high throughput

procedure, small molecules are identified which bind to proteins and have a

biological effect. These small molecules both

represent important tools for research and serve as prototypes for new types of

drugs as well. The work of the “Screening Unit” is supplemented by the FMP

research group “Medical Chemistry”.

Furthermore, the MDC and Charité are planning to create an

“Experimental and Clinical Research Center” (ECRC) on Campus Berlin-Buch. The

aim of all of these research activities is to speed the process of turning

scientific insights into medical treatments for patients.

The MDC was founded in Berlin-Buch in 1992. Since that

time, it has developed a future-oriented concept that enables research on an

array of clinical disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and

diseases of the brain within the framework of molecular medicine. The MDC’s aim

is to understand the origins of these complex diseases and their progression by

studying the relevant genes and gene products. MDC scientists work closely with

oncologists and cardiologists of the nearby research hospitals of the Charité within the Helios Klinikum

Berlin. MDC is funded by the Federal Government of Germany (90 per cent) and by

the State of Berlin (10 per cent) and is a member of the Helmholtz Association.

The FMP, also founded in 1992, is equally funded by the

State of Berlin (50 per cent) and the Federal Government of Germany (50 per cent).

In late 2000, the FMP moved from Berlin-Friedrichsfelde to Campus Berlin-Buch.

The FMP’s core activity is basic research for drug development. Its primary aim

is to elucidate cellular regulation processes and to show how they can be

influenced pharmacologically at the molecular level. To achieve this purpose,

the institute researches the structure, function, and interactions of proteins.

One thematic priority is the identification of small molecules that bind to

proteins and influence their function. These molecules could potentially serve

as new substances for drugs or as tools for research. The close linkage of

biology and chemistry is characteristic for the research of the institute. The

FMP is a member of the Leibniz Association.


Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) im
Forschungsverbund Berlin
Dr. Björn Maul
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10
13125 Berlin
0049/30/94 79 31 02
0049/30/94 79 31 09
Barbara Bachtler
Press and Public Affairs
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10
13125 Berlin
Phone.: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax:  +49 (0) 30
94 06 - 38 33