Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson
Group Leader
Phone:+49 331 567-9632Fax:+49 331 567-9602


Groups within Germany:
Herminghaus (MPI Goettingen), Wegner (MPI Mainz), Sundmacher (MPI Magdeburg), Faivre, Harrington, Dimova & Lipowsky (MPI Golm-Potsdam), Schwille (MPI Martinsried-Munich), Leimkühler (University of Potsdam), Tang (MPI Dresden)

International groups:
Dittrich (ETH Zurich/Basel), Gorochowski (University of Bristol)

Biomicrofluidic Systems

Micro-posts capturing different vesicle structures
Micro-posts capturing different vesicle structures

The research group is embedded within the joint project MaxSynBio, sponsored by the Max Planck Society and the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The overall objective of MaxSynBio is the synthesis of artificial biosystems from functional modules by means of a bottom-up approach to Synthetic Biology. The interdisciplinary joint research project involves 9 Max Planck Institutes in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and engineering sciences.

The aim of the research in this group is to better understand how cells are able to maintain and organise their various organelles. Model membranes composed of phospholipid bilayers are commonly used as tools to mimic the cell plasma membrane. Here, we use giant lipid vesicles to mimic cells and their organelles. Microfluidic devices fabricated within the group use integrated micro-posts to allow trapping of various vesicle structures (Figure). Not only does this permit positioning of vesicles at specific spatial locations, but precise fluidic and temperature control offered by microfluidic systems allows a step-wise creation of complex vesicle assemblies. By creating these artificial biomimetic systems, we hope to gain valuable insights into how the early protocell was able to evolve into the true modern cell.


  • Microfluidic systems
  • Lipid vesicles including GUVs and LUVs
  • Phase-separated lipid domains
  • Advanced microscopy including confocal, FLIM, and STED
  • Membrane-membrane adhesion
  • Membrane proteins including ion channels and ion transporters
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