The Max Planck Society meets in Heidelberg

69th Annual Meeting shines a spotlight on new areas of research

June 11, 2018

The Max Planck Society will be coming together for its 69th Annual Meeting from 12 to 14 June in Heidelberg. In addition to its Scientific Members and Supporting Members, the research organisation's main decision-making bodies will also be in attendance. 100 years after Max Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize, the concluding Plenary Assembly will be dedicated to the major themes of future-oriented research and their significance in the 21st century. The ceremonial address will be given by Stephen Mann of the University of Bristol. As a pioneer of the newly established research field "Origins of Life", he will be talking about how science is investigating a new way in which life itself came into being.

Four Max Planck Institutes are located in Heidelberg.

The Max Planck Society is expecting some 700 attendees from science, politics and business to attend its annual meeting. High-ranking guests include Baden-Württemberg's Minister of Science Theresia Bauer, the Rector of Heidelberg University Bernhard Eitel and several Max Planck Nobel laureates. “Heidelberg has always been famous as a city of science and continues to be a flagship for groundbreaking research today. It is home to the university, the German Cancer Research Center and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, as well as four of our Max Planck Institutes. This enormous concentration of scientific expertise make it the perfect setting for an Annual Meeting," says Max Planck President Martin Stratmann.

Excellent local networks

A total of some 1,175 employees work at the four Max Planck institutes in Heidelberg. While they are very international in their orientation, the scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law also have regional links in their research. In addition to honorary professorships at Heidelberg University, these include academic partnerships such as HeiParisMax, which brings together the legal specialists of the MPG and the university with the expert colleagues from the Sorbonne and Sciences Po in Paris. Then there is the large-scale research network "Biology at the Nanoscale" in which the University of Heidelberg and the MPI for Medical Research are engaged in a new type of collaboration with partners, including industrial companies, in order to achieve rapid application of insights gained from fundamental bioscientific and biomedical research in medicine. This cooperation has recently obtained a further boost with the announcement of an investment of EUR 25 million the state of Baden-Württemberg in a new university facility to be built in close proximity to the Max Planck Institute.

Last but not least, the joint doctoral programme helps promote additional networking: the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy collaborate with Heidelberg University through the International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy & Cosmic Physics, for example. What is more, leading minds from several institutions in the field of life sciences have joined forces in the Max Planck School Matter to Life – the new nationwide format for doctoral training in Germany.

Opening in the auditorium of Heidelberg University

The Annual Meeting will begin with a scientific lecture by Heidelberg Max Planck Director Werner Hofmann in the university auditorium. He will speak on the subject: "The sky over Namibia in a new light: astronomy with gamma rays". On the following two days, the governing bodies of the Max Planck Society will meet in the Kongresshaus. In addition to the Senate and Executive Committee, the governing bodies are the sections that consult on the appointment of new Scientific Members. The General Meeting of Members will pass the newly published 2017 Annual Report. As well as setting out the main facts and figures, this report provides an additional summary of the past year's research highlights. New insights include the fact that Homo sapiens is onsiderably older than assumed and that using less fertiliser reduces particulate air pollution. The 12 highlights in total also include a study showing how learning to read alters the brain in adults.

The final Plenary Assembly will be held on Thursday evening in the Kongresshaus. After speeches by the Minister of Science, Research and Arts of the state of Baden-Württemberg, Theresia Bauer, and Max Planck President Martin Stratmann give Stephen Mann of the University of Bristol in the ceremonial address, an overview of the up-and-coming research field "Origins of Life".

About the Max Planck Society

With a current total of 84 institutes and research facilities, there are more than 6,800 scientists, over 3,400 doctoral students, and some 1,800 visiting academics conducting fundamental research in the natural sciences, life sciences and humanities under the auspices of the Max Planck Society. Since the Max Planck Society was founded in 1948, it has produced 18 Nobel Laureates. The Max Planck Society is the international flagship of German science: in addition to five institutes abroad, it also runs 20 Max Planck Centers in collaboration with such partners as Princeton/USA, Science Po in France, University College London/UK and the University of Tokyo in Japan. With the German federal and state governments each providing half of its financial resources, the Max Planck Society received core funding of some 1.8 billion euros in 2017.

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