50th Anniversary of the MPI of Immunobiology and Epigenetics
On 2nd and 3rd December, more than 200 guests celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics with festivities including commemorative speeches and a scientific symposium with notable speakers from all over the world.
After a welcome address by Rudolf Grosschedl, Managing Director of the MPI, Peter Gruss, head of the Max Planck Society, gave the Presidential address. “Research means accepting responsibility for the future” cited Gruss Former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to highlight the innovative ability of the MPI. “The MPI represents on a small scale what the Max Planck Society represents on a larger scale: the setting and establishing of new topics and the gaining of knowledge.The MPI is breathing, depending on the pulse of research”, said Gruss in his talk. “Future needs ancestry” emphasized Gruss and honoured the accomplishments of the MPI, one of whose directors had been Nobel laureate Georges Köhler. As a symbol for its scientific accomplishment, Peter Gruss presented the MPI with a bust of Minerva, the Roman goddess of science.
Who would be better qualified to look back on the accomplishments and history of the MPI than a man who himself wrote part of this history? Klaus Eichmann is just such a man. For 23 years he himself had been a director of the MPI. In his presentation, he gave an overview of the history from the grounding fathers until the present.
Another highlight was the commemorative speech of Gottfried Schatz of the Biocenter of the University of Basel “What does Europe’s science need?” Schatz highlighted the importance of basic research. Politics and administration often think that in order to benefit society, science has to answer given questions. But in reality, innovative reseach is principal in creating the questions that open the door to important breakthroughs. A state that sets too much priority on short-term applied science, will soon have nothing to apply. To be able to solve present and future problems in a changing world, we need the power of scientific thinking that sees in all present a hypothesis for the future, said Schatz.
Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rector of the University of Freiburg, emphasized the vital importance of the co-operation between the University and the Max Planck Institute which has contributed to the national and international awareness of the research center Freiburg. The “give-and-go” interaction between MPI and University is unbeatable”, said Schiewer.
Freiburg’s Mayor Dieter Salomon also emphasized the MPI’s role as one of Freiburg’s first research institutes in creating a public awareness of the importance of science. He called the MPI the “Germcell of Freiburg’s research landscape”. Today, the scientific institutes rank among the major employers of Freiburg, the most important export goods are science and the economy promoted by science has risen to a record high, said Salomon.
The 50th Anniversary received additional scientific profile by a symposium on 3rd December. Notable scientists from all over the world presented their current work on topics related to past and present research areas of the MPI. Among the speakers were Nobel laureate David Baltimore from Caltech, Laurie Glimcher from Harvard Medical School Boston, Michael Neuberger from the University of Cambridge, Ruslan Medzhitov from HHMI & Yale University, David Allis and Titia de Lange from Rockefeller University, Janet Rossant from the University of Toronto, Davor Solter from the Institute of Medical Biology Singapore and Rudolf Jaenisch from the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge.