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Team “Wormstorm” at the BiOlympics

The BiOlympics, a huge multi-institute event with over 160 participants, took place this past weekend, Sept 12-13. The Hyman Lab and the Grill Lab combined forces to create team “Wormstorm”!

We may not have taken home a medal, but we won all of our soccer, frisbee, table tennis, and kicker (aka foosball) games. And most importantly, we had a LOT of fun. Thanks to Mark for organizing the team!


Congratulations to Elisabeth on her paper about the biophysics of mitotic cell rounding

Hyman lab postdoc Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich –you may remember her Two Minute Talk on Cell Rounding! — has just published a paper on the work she discussed in her video. You can read the free full text of her paper, here. This paper is the result of a collaboration between the Hyman and Jülicher labs in Dresden and the Müller and Helenius labs at ETH-Zurich.

Fischer-Friedrich, E, Hyman AA, Jülicher F, Müller DJ, Heleniusa J. Quantification of surface tension and internal pressure generated by single mitotic cells. Sci Rep. 2014; 4: 6213. [Full Text]

Tony gives talk at VBC Seminar Series in Vienna

Today Tony gave a talk on “Liquid like compartments in cells: Implications for polarity and disease” at the VBC Seminar Series at the Vienna Biocenter.

Farewell to Ina & Mai

All of us here in the Hyman lab wish a warm farewell and the best of luck to two of our long time staff members, Ina Poser and Mai Thuong Pham, as they each move on to the next steps in their careers. Mai, one of our expert human cell line technicians, worked with us for over 3 years and will now be teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Ina established and led our BAC Transgenomics group, directing the creation of thousands of transformed human and mouse cell lines. These lines have been used extensively in our lab and all over the world, leading to 43 publications for Ina during her 10 years here. We think that must set an MPI record! Ina will now be working in Regensburg, Germany.

Thank you for everything, Ina & Mai! We all miss you already.

Ina Poser

Ina Poser

Mai Thuong Pham

Mai Thuong Pham

Groundbreaking event for the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD)

The Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD) is an interdisciplinary institute which was built on the joint research program between the MPI-CBG and the MPI-PKS. c53d19f707The mission of the Center is “to study integrated biological systems and processes using computational and theoretical approaches in close collaboration with experimentalists.” To achieve this mission, the CSBD needs a dedicated space! Construction of a new building to house the Center will begin this fall, and the official groundbreaking event took place last Thursday, August 28. CSBD Director Gene Myers was joined by Stanislaw Tillich, Minister-President of the Free State of Saxony, and Prof. Dr. Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society, in breaking the ground for the new building, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016. Click here to see the news piece that aired on the MDR TV station.

Congratulations to Oliver on his paper, which illuminates the state of PCM components in the cytoplasm

The pericentriolar material (PCM) is created through an extensively interacting network of proteins including SPD-5, SPD-2, and PLK-1. Previously, it was not known whether these proteins formed smaller complexes in the cytoplasm before entering the PCM, or if the interactions only occur as the proteins are incorporated into the PCM matrix. This work, led by graduate student Oliver Wueseke and just published in Molecular Biology of the Cell, shows that these PCM components interact only in the context of PCM assembly, and not in the cytoplasm.

Wuekese O, Bunkenborg J, Hein MY, Zinke A, Viscardi V, Woodruff JB, Oegema K, Mann M, Andersen JS, Hyman AA. The C. elegans pericentriolar material components SPD-2 and SPD-5 are monomeric in the cytoplasm prior to incorporation into the PCM matrix. Mol Biol Cell. 2014 Aug 7. pii: mbc.E13-09-0514. [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed]

More press for the Parkinson’s paper

Our story on Parkinson’s and the glycolytic pathway has been picked up by several newspapers, radio and TV stations in Germany. It’s safe to say the word is out! See the stories by clicking on the links and images below.


Congratulations to Yusuke for his paper on Parkinson’s, mitochondrial potential, and the glycolytic pathway

The newest paper from our lab (a collaboration with the Kurzchalia group) is out this month in the open access journal Biology Open.

Toyoda Y, Erkut C, Pan-Montojo F, Boland S, Stewart MP, Müller DJ, Wurst W, Hyman AA, Kurzchalia T. Products of the Parkinson’s disease-related glyoxalase DJ-1, D-lactate and glycolate, support mitochondrial membrane potential and neuronal survivalBiol Open. 2014 Jul 25. pii: BIO20149399.

[MPI-CBG Press Release. Article in the Sächsische Zeitung newspaper.]

DJ-1 figThis work links the metabolic products of the glyoxalase DJ-1 with mitochondrial health during cellular stress. DJ-1 has previously been linked to the onset of Parkinson’s disease, which is associated with mitochondrial decline in dopaminergic neurons. In this paper, we show that the products of DJ-1 enhance the survival of cultured dopaminergic neurons, indicating that they are a potential therapeutic route for treatment or prevention of Parkinson’s disease.

New Two Minute Talk! Elisabeth explains mitotic cell rounding

In the latest addition to our “Two Minute Talk” series, postdoc Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich explains the biophysics of why and how cells become round during mitosis.

Written & narrated by Elisabeth; produced & directed by Lisa Dennison.

See a video of Tony at “2 im Boot”

Did you miss 2 im Boot? Now’s your chance to see what it was like! Check out this 4-minute video for a glimpse into the fun evening on a historic steamboat with Tony and Prof. Holger Brandes.

Spot Tony!

Spot 25-year-old Tony in this lineup of predoc photos from the LMB, discovered when he was there for the Alumni Symposium earlier this month! LMB

Lens on Life premiers in Rome

lens1Lens on Life, a traveling art exhibition inspired by cell division, premiered this month at the Federica Schiavo Gallery in Rome, Italy.  The exhibition is rooted in the MitoSys Project, an EU-funded research consortium composed of labs from eight different European countries, all dedicated to understanding mitosis from a systems biology perspective. Four scientists from the consortium, Tony Hyman, Kim Nasmyth, Jan-Michael Peters, and Melina Schuh, were paired with artists to have interactive dialogues and bring new perspectives to the subject of mitosis. The artists, Lucy & Jorge Orta, Shobana Jeyasingh, Ackroyd & Harvey, and Rob Kesseler, traveled to the scientists’ cities and laboratories, and also brought the scientists back to their own studios to foster open and creative conversations about science and artistic metaphors. Lens on Life features the four works of art that resulted from these meetings, as well as a documentary of the whole process, Meeting of the Minds

Lens on Life will be in Rome until August 28, 2014. Next year the exhibition will move to Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London (January 27-February 27), and finally to the University Museum of Heidelberg University in Germany (March 16-April 28).

Congratulations to Jeff & Oliver on their contribution to “The centrosome renaissance”

The centrosome renaissance,” a special theme issue of Philosophical Transactions B from the Royal Society, is available online as of today! This volume features 18 articles reflecting “direct and indirect input of some 50 leading scientists in the field” of centrosome biology. Jeff Woodruff, Oliver Wueseke, and Tony contributed a review on “Pericentriolar material structure and dynamics,” outlining the current state of PCM research and the outstanding questions in the field. PCM

New publication: “Centrosomes are autocatalytic droplets of pericentriolar material organized by centrioles”

A new paper from our lab and Frank Jülicher‘s lab is out in PNAS this month: “Centrosomes are autocatalytic droplets of pericentriolar material organized by centrioles.” This work proposes “a theoretical description of centrosomes as liquid droplets,” drawing on our knowledge of phase separation in the cytoplasm.

Congratulations to Avinash on his Humboldt Fellowship


Our postdoc Avinash Patel has just been awarded a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his work on phase transitions of cellular processes. Way to go, Avinash!!

Long Night of Science at the MPI

It’s that time of year again! The MPI will open its doors to the public tomorrow from 6pm to 1am for a long night of science and fun. It’s Dresden’s biggest science outreach event, with 29 different participating institutions and universities. Come visit the MPI during this “Lange Nacht” to see cool science demos, hands-on activities, science-based artwork (including photography pieces from our own Oliver Wüseke), videos of science behind-the-scenes, and more. We’ll even be screening the World Cup games so that football fans can have it all — science and soccer in one great location. See you tomorrow night!



#CBGday: adventures in Dresden!

On Friday June 27, hundreds of people from the MPI-CBG flooded the streets of Dresden for our first annual CBG Day! IMG_2100sWe were randomly sorted into over 30 teams of ~10 people each and sent out on a wild historical scavenger hunt all over the city, encountering a number of interesting characters along the way. The winning team was led by our very own Carsten Hoege! It was a fun-filled day (topped off with an extra special beer hour!) that helped everyone get to know members of the MPI they wouldn’t usually meet. Thanks to everyone on the CBG day organizing team, and we’re already looking forward to the next one!

Tony stars in “2 im Boot”


Tony wowed the crowd with his flute last night on the dampfschiff ‘Dresden’ at 2 im Boot. It was a great evening of science, games, and fun. Thanks to the organizers of 2 im Boot, Florian Frisch and Lena Herlitzius for putting together a great event!

Simone & the Froggies are back in the Bild

Simone and the Frog Oracles. Photo: Dirk Sukow

Simone and the Frog Oracles. Photo: Dirk Sukow

We all cheered extra loudly for Germany’s World Cup win over Portugal because Simone’s Frog Oracles predicted the score exactly: 4-0! Thanks to their astounding feat of prophesy, the frogs are now famous, landing themselves and Simone back in the Bild Zeitung.

Read the article (in German) here! So what do the frogs predict for the next Germany game against Ghana? 3-2…for Germany, of course. The game’s on Saturday, so let’s see how they do!

Simone’s “frog oracles” predict a big win for Germany!

It’s no secret that World Cup fever has gripped the MPI-CBG, as all the weekday games are screened in our own auditorium, accompanied by a complicated beer betting system to let people predict the outcome. But our scientists have taken match prediction to a whole new level, creating oracles out of various model organisms.

Bild.de, Photo: Dirk Sukow

Bild.de, Photo: Dirk Sukow

Aiming to replace the late Octopus Oracle Paul, who correctly predicted all of Germany’s games during the last world cup, labs at the MPI have made Model Oracles with: Drosophila (Tomancak lab), red flour beetles (Tomancak), Zebrafish (Vastenhouw lab), Planeria (Rink lab), yeast (Alberti lab), and our personal favorite, Xenopus (Hyman lab postdoc Simone Reber). Simone’s frog oracles have predicted that Germany will win their first match against Portugal tonight by a score of 4-0. We can’t wait to see if they’re right! Check out an article about the Model Oracles printed in the newspaper Bild Zeitung, featuring Simone and her frogs.