Recent History

Fig. 13
Fig. 14

In 1981, the MPIH was restructured towards non-clinical, basic neuroscience through the establishment of the Departments of Neuroanatomy (Wässle, Director 1981-2008) and Neurophysiology (Singer, Director 1982-2011), followed by the Department of Neurochemistry (Betz, Director 1991-2009) (Fig. 13). Heinz Wässle conducted functional and structural studies of the mammalian retina, Heinrich Betz analyzed the molecular components of synapses, and Wolf Singer studied higher cognitive functions with a focus on the visual system. The emeritus pages of our website give details of their scientific achievements.

In the first decade of the new millennium, the MPG defined the analysis of neural networks as a central research topic for the institute. In 2008 Erin Schuman and Gilles Laurent were appointed as directors of the departments "Synaptic Plasticity" and "Neural Systems", respectively. Both departments took up work in the summer of 2009 and were initially located in interim facilities on the Science Campus "Riedberg" of the Frankfurt University. The construction of a new building for the institute on this campus was finalized in April 2013, next to the MPI of Biophysics. (Fig. 14). The new institute building currently houses the three departments of the institute (those of Erin Schuman, Gilles Laurent and Moritz Helmstaedter, latter since August 2014), four Max Planck Research Groups at the institute (Tatjana Tchumatchenko, Johannes Letzkus, Hiroshi Ito and Julijana Gjorgjieva), several core facilities, and the Max Planck Research Unit for Neurogenetics of Peter Mombaerts.

Fig. 13: Heinrich Betz, Wolf Singer and Heinz Wässle (from left to right)

Fig. 14: Architect's views of the new building


Ernst Strüngmann Institute
The year 2008 also saw the foundation of the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI), whose mission is to promote research in the field of cognitive neuroscience, funded by the Ernst Strüngmann Foundation and scientifically supervised by the MPG. This Institute is currently housed in the old building of the MPI for Brain Research in Niederrad and is conceived to have two or three departments. Pascal Fries was appointed as the first ESI Director and as Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society in 2009, and took up work in 2010. ESI houses Pascal Fries's research department, the Emeritus lab of Wolf Singer (also member of ESI), and the labs of Group Leaders Hermann Cuntz, Michael Schmid and Martin Vinck.

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