Max Planck Society

The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (German: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.; abbreviated MPG) is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes founded in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society[1][3] and renamed the Max Planck Society in 1948 in honor of its former president, theoretical physicist Max Planck. The society is funded by the federal and state governments of Germany.[2][1]

According to its primary goal, the Max Planck Society supports fundamental research in the natural, life and social sciences, the arts and humanities in its 84 (as of December 2017)[2] Max Planck Institutes.[1][3] The society has a total staff of approximately 17,000 permanent employees, including 5,470 scientists, plus around 4,600 non-tenured scientists and guests.[2] The society's budget for 2015 was about 1.7 billion.[2] As of December 31, 2016, the Max Planck Society employed a total of 22,995 staff, of whom 14,036 were scientists, which represents nearly 61 percent of the total number of employees. 44.3% were female employees and 27% of all of the employees were foreign nationals.[4]

The Max Planck Institutes focus on excellence in research. The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization, with 33 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists, and is widely regarded as one of the foremost basic research organizations in the world. In 2018, the Nature Publishing Index placed the Max Planck institutes third worldwide in terms of research published in Nature journals (after the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Harvard University).[5] In terms of total research volume (unweighted by citations or impact), the Max Planck Society is only outranked by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences and Harvard University in the Times Higher Education institutional rankings.[6] The Thomson Reuters-Science Watch website placed the Max Planck Society as the second leading research organization worldwide following Harvard University in terms of the impact of the produced research over science fields.[7]

The Max Planck Society and its predecessor Kaiser Wilhelm Society hosted several renowned scientists in their fields, including luminaries such as Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Albert Einstein.

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science
Society's logo
PredecessorKaiser Wilhelm Society[1]
Typenon-profit research organization[1]
HeadquartersMunich, Bavaria, Germany[1]
Martin Stratmann
Main organ
€1.8 billion (2016)[2]
Max Planck (Nobel 1918)
Max Planck, for whom the society is named


The organization was established in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, or Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG), a non-governmental research organization named for the then German emperor. The KWG was one of the world's leading research organizations; its board of directors included scientists like Walther Bothe, Peter Debye, Albert Einstein, and Fritz Haber. In 1946, Otto Hahn assumed the position of President of KWG, and in 1948, the society was renamed the Max Planck Society (MPG) after its former President (1930–37) Max Planck, who died in 1947.

The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization. In 2006, the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings[8] of non-university research institutions (based on international peer review by academics) placed the Max Planck Society as No.1 in the world for science research, and No.3 in technology research (behind AT&T Corporation and the Argonne National Laboratory in the United States).

The domain attracted at least 1.7 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.[9]

Max Planck Research Awards

The society's logo features Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom.

Since 2004, the Max Planck Research Award is conferred annually to two internationally renowned scientists, one of whom works in Germany and one in another country.

Calls for nominations for the award are invited on an annually rotating basis in specific sub-areas of the natural sciences and engineering, the life sciences and the human and social sciences. The objective of the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in presenting this joint research award is to give added momentum to specialist fields that are either not yet established in Germany or that deserve to be expanded.[10]

List of presidents of the KWG and the MPG


München - Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Entrance of the administrative headquarters of the Max Planck Society in Munich

The Max Planck Society is formally an eingetragener Verein, a registered association with the institute directors as scientific members having equal voting rights.[11] The society has its registered seat in Berlin, while the administrative headquarters are located in Munich. Since June 2014, materials scientist Martin Stratmann has been the President of the Max Planck Society.[12]

Funding is provided predominantly from federal and state sources, but also from research and licence fees and donations. One of the larger donations was the castle Schloss Ringberg near Kreuth in Bavaria, which was pledged by Luitpold Emanuel in Bayern (Duke in Bavaria). It passed to the Society after the duke died in 1973, and is now used for conferences.

Max Planck institutes and research groups

The Max Planck Society consists of over 80 research institutes.[13] In addition, the society funds a number of Max Planck Research Groups (MPRG) and International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS). The purpose of establishing independent research groups at various universities is to strengthen the required networking between universities and institutes of the Max Planck Society.

The research units are located across Europe. In 2007 the Society established its first non-European centre, with an institute on the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University focusing on neuroscience.[14][15]

The Max Planck Institutes operate independently from, though in close cooperation with, the universities, and focus on innovative research which does not fit into the university structure due to their interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary nature or which require resources that cannot be met by the state universities.

Internally, Max Planck Institutes are organized into research departments headed by directors such that each MPI has several directors, a position roughly comparable to anything from full professor to department head at a university. Other core members include Junior and Senior Research Fellows.[16]

In addition, there are several associated institutes:[13]

Name City Country Section
Center of Advanced European Studies and Research Bonn Germany Biology & Medicine
Ernst Strüngmann Institute Frankfurt am Main Germany Biology & Medicine

Max Planck Society also has a collaborative center with Princeton University—Max Planck Princeton Research Center for Plasma Physics—located in Princeton, New Jersey, in the U.S.[17] The latest Max Planck Research Center has been established at Harvard University in 2016 as the Max Planck Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean.

International Max Planck Research Schools

Together with the Association of Universities and other Education Institutions in Germany, the Max Planck Society established numerous International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) to promote junior scientists:

Max Planck Center

  • The Max Planck Centre for Attosecond Science (MPC-AS), POSTECH Pohang
  • The Max Planck POSTECH Center for Complex Phase Materials, POSTECH Pohang

Former institutes

Among others:

Open access publishing

The Max Planck Society describes itself as "a co-founder of the international Open Access movement".[48] Together with the European Cultural Heritage Online Project the Max Planck Society organized the Berlin Open Access Conference in October 2003 to ratify the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing. At the Conference the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was passed. The Berlin Declaration built on previous open access declarations, but widened the research field to be covered by open access to include humanities and called for new activities to support open access such as “encouraging the holders of cultural heritage” to provide open access to their resources.[49]

The Max Planck Society continues to support open access in Germany and mandates institutional self-archiving of research outputs on the eDoc server and publications by its researchers in open access journals within 12 months.[50] To finance open access the Max Planck Society established the Max Planck Digital Library. The library also aims to improve the conditions for open access on behalf of all Max Planck institutes by negotiating contracts with open access publishers and developing infrastructure projects, such as the Max Planck open access repository.[51]

Pay for Ph.D. students

In 2008 the European General Court ruled in a case brought by a PhD student against the Max Planck Society that "a researcher preparing a doctoral thesis on the basis of a grant contract concluded with the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften eV, must be regarded as a worker within the meaning of Article 39 EC only if his activities are performed for a certain period of time under the direction of an institute forming part of that association and if, in return for those activities, he receives remuneration".[52]

In 2012 the Max Planck Society was at the centre of a controversy about some PhD students being given employment contracts. Of the 5,300 students who at the time wrote their PhD thesis at the 80 Max Planck Institutes 2,000 had an employment contract. The remaining 3,300 received grants of between 1,000 and 1,365 Euro.[53] According to a 2011 statement by the Max Planck Society "As you embark on a PhD, you are still anything but a proper scientist; it’s during the process itself that you become a proper scientist... a PhD is an apprenticeship in the lab, and as such it is usually not paid like a proper job – and this is, by and large, the practice at all research institutions and universities".[54] The allegation of wage dumping for young scientists was discussed during the passing of the 2012 "Wissenschaftsfreiheitsgesetz" (Scientific Freedom Law) in the German Parliament.[55]

Nobel Laureates

Max-Planck-Society (since 1948)

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Society (1914–48)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "About us | Organization". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "About us | Max Planck Society: Facts & Figures". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b "About us | Short Portrait". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Facts and Figures | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft". Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  5. ^ Nature Publishing Index - 2018 Global Top 200 Institutions Archived 9 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Nature Publishing Group
  6. ^ The titans: Institutional rankings by output and citations, Times Higher Education, 17 September 2009
  7. ^ [1] Science Watch
  8. ^ "Top non-university institutions in science". Times Higher Education Supplement. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
  9. ^ "Max Planck Society attracts almost 2m visitors online yearly". Retrieved 2009-03-01.
  10. ^ [2] One Award - Two Winners, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
  11. ^ "MPG Organization". Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  12. ^ [3] Homepage of Martin Stratmann
  13. ^ a b "Institutes | Max Planck Institutes". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  14. ^ Check, Erika (20 September 2007). "Florida courts German life-sciences institute". Nature. 449 (7160): 264–265. Bibcode:2007Natur.449..264C. doi:10.1038/449264b. PMID 17882174.
  15. ^ "Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience Website".
  16. ^ "Max Planck Society: postdoctoral and doctoral jobs notifications". DolPages. 2017.
  17. ^ "International - Max Planck Center / Partnerinstitute - Max Planck-Princeton Research Center for Plasma Physics". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "IMPRS for Intelligent Systems".
  20. ^ "International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS)". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  21. ^ "IMPRS Complex Surfaces in Material Science". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  22. ^ "International Max Planck Research School for Computer Science". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  23. ^ "Grünes Hamburg - Blog über Nachhaltigkeit und erneuerbare Energien -". Grünes Hamburg - Blog über Nachhaltigkeit und erneuerbare Energien. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Short Portrait".
  26. ^ "Home - International Max Planck Research School". 2019-02-21. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  27. ^ "IMPRS-gBGC". Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Home". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  29. ^ "IMPRS-HLR - IMPRS-HLR". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  30. ^ "Welcome — IMPRS for Language Sciences — Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  31. ^ "MSc/PhD/MD-PhD Neuroscience Program". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  32. ^ [4] formerly IMPRS for Neural and Behavioral Sciences "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 April 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ "MarMic". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  34. ^ "Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law - Activities of the Past Years". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  35. ^ "Welcome - IMPRS for Molecular Life Sciences: From Biological Structures to Neural Circuits". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  36. ^ "MSc/PhD Molecular Biology Program". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  37. ^ "PHP version not supported". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  38. ^ "IMPRS". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  39. ^ "IMPRS on Multiscale Bio-Systems — IMPRS". Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  40. ^ "Short Portrait". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  41. ^ "Homepage". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  42. ^ ["International Max Planck Research School for Solar System Science".]
  43. ^ ["Doctoral Studies in Physics: IMPRS at the University of Göttingen".]
  44. ^ ["Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research".]
  45. ^ "PhD School". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  46. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 September 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  47. ^ [5]
  48. ^ "The 13th"Berlin OA conference" was the second one focussing on the large-scale transition of scholarly journals to Open Access as put forward by the OA2020 initiative". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  49. ^ Regazzi, John J. (2015). Scholarly Communications: A History from Content as King to Content as Kingmaker. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 192. ISBN 0810890887.
  50. ^ "Germany - Global Open Access Portal". UNESCO. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  51. ^ "The unstoppable rise of Open Access". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  52. ^ "Case C-94/07 Andrea Raccanelli v Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften eV". 17 July 2008.
  53. ^ "Wut der Doktoranden Schafft die Stipendien ab!". 28 March 2012.
  54. ^ "Scholarships are also a sign of quality What is a doctoral thesis all about?". Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  55. ^ "Wissenschaftsfreiheitsgesetz". 29 June 2012.


  • Alison Abbott: German science starts facing up to its historical amnesia, in: Nature Vol 403 (2000), S.474f. (article about the Commission for the history of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft under National Socialism)
  • Gretchen Vogel: Aufbau Ost: Max Planck's East German Experiment, in: Science Vol. 326, 6. November 2009 (about the new institutes in the eastern part of Germany)

External links

Coordinates: 48°08′28″N 11°34′56″E / 48.14111°N 11.58222°E

Adolf Butenandt

Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt (24 March 1903 – 18 January 1995) was a German biochemist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939 for his "work on sex hormones." He initially rejected the award in accordance with government policy, but accepted it in 1949 after World War II. He was President of the Max Planck Society from 1960 to 1972.

Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities is an international statement on open access and access to knowledge. It emerged from a conference on open access hosted in the Harnack House in Berlin by the Max Planck Society in 2003.

Bert Sakmann

Bert Sakmann (born 12 June 1942) is a German cell physiologist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Erwin Neher in 1991 for their work on "the function of single ion channels in cells," and invention of the patch clamp. Bert Sakmann was Professor at Heidelberg University and is an Emeritus Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany. Since 2008 he leads an emeritus research group at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology.

Center of Advanced European Studies and Research

The Center of Advanced European Study and Research (CAESAR) was founded in 1995 as part of the compensatory actions under the Berlin/Bonn law, which were intended to support structural change in the region of the former capital. The independent foundation operates under private law with foundation capital from the governments of Germany and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

caesar is closely associated with the Max Planck Society (MPG). The President of the Max Planck Society chairs the Board of Trustees. The caesar-directors are scientific members of the Max Planck Society. The appointment of the directors, the evaluations and the safeguarding of scientific excellence are realized according to the criteria of the Max Planck Society.

The foundation operates a research center, which does research in the field of neurosciences with modern photonic, molecular biological and chemical methods as well as methods of microtechnology. Here, particularly optical methods are utilized for brain research and brain control. At the moment, caesar is being reorganized thematically. The focus is put on research regarding sensory processes, molecular causes for neurodegenerative diseases and the use of microscopic and spectroscopic methods in neurosciences (“neurophotonics”) in order to identify the operating principles of neural networks and to obtain “soft” control.

Within the main building is also the Life Science Inkubator (LSI). The LSI ist a public–private partnership (PPP), and one partner is CAESAR. Other partners are e.g. Fraunhofer Society and Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.


eLife is a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences, It was established at the end of 2012 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Max Planck Society, and Wellcome Trust, following a workshop held in 2010 at the Janelia Farm Research Campus. Together, these organizations provided the initial funding to support the business and publishing operations, and in 2016 the organizations committed USD$26 million to continue publication of the journal.The current editor-in-chief is Michael Eisen (University of California, Berkeley), succeeding Randy Schekman who stepped down in January 2019. Editorial decisions are made largely by senior editors and members of the board of reviewing editors, all of whom are active scientists working in fields ranging from human genetics and neuroscience to biophysics and epidemiology.

Ernst Ruska

Ernst August Friedrich Ruska (25 December 1906 – 27 May 1988) was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 for his work in electron optics, including the design of the first electron microscope.

Ernst Strüngmann Institute

The Ernst Strüngmann Institute for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society (ESI) is an independent research institute financed by Andreas and Thomas Strüngmann, German entrepreneurs, and named after their father Dr. Ernst Strüngmann. The ESI is under the scientific governance of the Max Planck Society. It is located in Frankfurt am Main in Hesse. ESI-directors are Scientific Members of the Max Planck Society.

ESI’s mission is to perform excellent fundamental brain research. ESI research focuses on understanding how the many parts of the brain work together to bring about our behaviour.

Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society

The Friedrich Miescher Laboratory (FML) of the Max Planck Society is a biological research institute located on the Society's campus in Tübingen, Germany. It was founded in 1969 to offer highly qualified junior scientists in the area of biology an opportunity to establish independent research groups and pursue their own line of research within a five-year period (extensions possible). The group leaders are elected by a committee of scientists from diverse areas and institutions on the basis of a public tendering procedure. While at the FML, they can use modern, well-equipped laboratories and work in teams tailored to their ideas. The laboratory is not headed by a director. Instead, the group leaders take turns in representing the FML, and its administrative and organizational interests. Furthermore, all group leaders jointly manage the funds available to the laboratory.

There is no specification as to which kind of biological research should be conducted at the FML, and the focus of research changes with the appointment of each new group leader. In the past, research interests have included developmental biology, neurobiology, cell biology, psychology and many other areas of modern biology.

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society

The Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society (FHI) is a science research institute located at the heart of the academic district of Dahlem, in Berlin, Germany.

The original Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, founded in 1911, was incorporated in the Max Planck Society and simultaneously renamed for its first director, Fritz Haber, in 1953.

The research topics covered throughout the history of the institute include chemical kinetics and reaction dynamics, colloid chemistry, atomic physics, spectroscopy, surface chemistry and surface physics, chemical physics and molecular physics, theoretical chemistry, and materials science.During World War I and World War II, the research of the institute was directed more or less towards Germany's military needs.

To the illustrious past members of the Institute belong Herbert Freundlich, James Franck, Paul Friedlander, Rudolf Ladenburg, Michael Polanyi, Eugene Wigner, Ladislaus Farkas, Hartmut Kallmann, Otto Hahn, Robert Havemann, Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer, Iwan N. Stranski, Ernst Ruska, Max von Laue, Gerhard Borrmann, Rudolf Brill, Kurt Moliere, Jochen Block, Heinz Gerischer, Rolf Hosemann, Kurt Ueberreiter, Alexander Bradshaw, Elmar Zeitler, and Gerhard Ertl.

Nobel Prize laureates affiliated with the institute include Max von Laue (1914), Fritz Haber (1918), James Franck (1925), Otto Hahn (1944), Eugene Wigner (1963), Ernst Ruska (1986), Gerhard Ertl (2007).

Hans F. Zacher

Hans Friedrich Zacher (22 June 1928 - 18 February 2015) was a German academician. He was a professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and was the President of the Max Planck Society from 1990 till 1996.

Hartmut Michel

Hartmut Michel (born 18 July 1948) is a German biochemist, who received the 1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Heinz Staab

Heinz Staab (26 March 1926 – 29 July 2012) was a German chemist. He was director of the Max Planck Society from 1984 until 1990.

Hubert Markl

Hubert Simon Markl (17 August 1938 – 8 January 2015) was a German biologist who also served as President of the Max Planck Society from 1996 to 2002.

Johann Deisenhofer

Johann Deisenhofer (born September 30, 1943) is a German biochemist who, along with Hartmut Michel and Robert Huber, received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988 for their determination of the first crystal structure of an integral membrane protein, a membrane-bound complex of proteins and co-factors that is essential to photosynthesis.

Martin Stratmann

Martin Stratmann (born 20 April 1954 in Essen, Germany) is a German electrochemist and materials scientist. He is one of the directors at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (Max-Planck-Institute for Iron Research) in Düsseldorf since 2000 and heads its department of Interface Chemistry and Surface Engineering.

Stratman is president of the Max Planck Society since June 2014 after having been its vice president from 2008 to 2014.

Max Planck Digital Library

The Max Planck Digital Library (MPDL) is a central service unit within the Max Planck Society. It is based in Munich, Germany.

The MPDL provides publication databases to the Max Planck Institutes, and supports them by creating digital and network-based research environments.

Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

The Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute) in Göttingen is a research institute of the Max Planck Society. Currently, 850 people work at the institute, about half of them are scientists.

The Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry is the only one of the institutes within the Max Planck Society which combines the three classical scientific disciplines – biology, physics and chemistry. Founded in 1971, its initial focus was set on physical and chemical problems. It has since undergone a continuous evolution manifested by an expanding range of core subjects and work areas such as neurobiology, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Peter Gruss

Peter Gruss (born 28 June 1949 in Alsfeld, Hesse) is a German developmental biologist, president of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, and the former president of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (having been elected for the term from 2002 to 2008 and reelected for 2008–2014).

Gruss's research has generally covered the topic of control mechanisms in the development of mammals, especially in the development of the nervous system. He has been able to produce insulin using stem cells.

Schloss Ringberg

Schloss Ringberg (Ringberg Castle) is located in the Bavarian Alps, 50 km south of Munich, on a foothill overlooking the Tegernsee. Not open to the general public, it is a property of the Max Planck Society and used for conferences.

Max Planck Society
Associated Institutes
List of Presidents
Nobel laureates

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