Silent Heros 2022

Indispensable helpers

Their name rarely appears on a paper. And yet, without them there would be no publications: Staff members who work in the background to ensure that research runs smoothly at the Max Delbrück Center. Every year at the summer party, the most dedicated among them are honored with the Silent Hero Award.

From left to right: Benjamin Turley, Gero Hübner and Yannic Rösch played some music.

The reputation of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (Max Delbrück Center) extends far beyond the borders of Germany. The center owes it to its approximately 1,000 scientists who investigate the “human system” in Berlin-Mitte and Berlin-Buch. But this research needs a solid foundation, which is created, day after day, by many employees in the background. They are “silent heroes” who do not appear in any papers. And yet, they are indispensable. To honor them and bring their work into the limelight at least once a year, the Society of Friends of the Max Delbrück Center donates the annual Silent Hero Award, which is presented at the summer festivities. First place is endowed with 500 euros, second place with 300 euros, third place with 200 euros. This year, Michael Hinz, Sustainability Coordinator, led the ceremony.   

And the winner is: Manuela Franzke


From left to right: Prof. Dr. Thomas Sommer, Manuela Franzke, Prof. Dr. Heike Graßmann, Sabrina Golusik, Ramona Zummach und Dr. Michael Hinz.



The first prize went to Manuela Franzke, the “fairy of the scullery” – this is how the laudators Sabrina Golusik, technical assistant in Dr Mikhail Kudryashev's working group, and Ramona Zummach, technical assistant to Dr Katja Simon, introduced this year’s winner. “She helps where she can, is always friendly, open-minded and a really great help,” says Sabrina Golusik.For six years,  Manuela Franzke has been working for the “Central Services” team in the scullery of House 31.1. She washes measuring beakers and flasks, sterilizes and autoclaves petri dishes, pipettes and laboratory vessels. “It may sound trivial,” says Sabrina Golusik, “but Manuela Franzke not only fulfils our every wish. With her dedication, she makes the scientists’ work possible in the first place.” The award winner smiled all over at these words: “I am grateful that you appreciate this so much.”

Second place: Tim Werth

Professor Maike Sander, the future Scientific Director of the Max Delbrück Center, talks to
 its founder Professor Detlef Ganten

In her laudatory speech, Victoria Malchin described the runner-up as the “good soul of the building”: Tim Werth, janitor in the TfM Operations department. Every day, he makes sure that everything runs smoothly at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC-BIMSB) – the building as well as, in part, its technical infrastructure. He is also responsible for autoclaving the waste. When she talks to him in the morning about what needs to be done, he has usually already taken care of these things, says building manager Victoria Malchin. Always with a smile and a wisecrack remark on his lips, with an extraordinary sense of duty, great manual dexterity, Tim Werth is not only full of ideas but “one of the absolute pillars of our work processes”, the nomination letter says. “He really solves every problem at the BIMSB,” administrative supervisor Professor Heike Graßmann summed it up. “He more than deserves this award!”

Third place: Janet Liebold

At the summer party, the new corporate design of the Max Delbrück Center made its first appearance - among other things, on the deck chairs.

The third prize also went to a staff member at the MDC-BIMSB: Janet Liebold, laboratory manager and technical assistant in the research groups of Dr. Leif Ludwig and Dr. Simon Haas. Both groups started a year and a half ago and are part of the joint focus area “Single Cell Approaches for Personalized Medicine” of the Max Delbrück Center, the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH). Janet Liebold was the first laboratory director hired for the focus area, and she was instrumental in getting the processes in the cross-institutional design up and running. The start-up phase was tumultuous, laudator Simon Haas recalled: “Janet led us through this turbulent time, navigating 30 staff members without ever letting anything slip.” She has since been able to take up her “normal” laboratory activities, which she performs with great care and precision. She continues to be the backbone of the lab, the nomination letter states. “Janet Liebold is much more than a silent hero,” Simon Haas said, “I would say she is a loud hero.” Another one you can't do without.

Text: Jana Ehrhardt-Joswig