Founding director Reinhard Lipowsky was granted emeritus status

Farewell from the institute

September 19, 2022

(Berlin) The ceremonial farewell of Reinhard Lipowsky as director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (MPICI) will take place today during the "Biomembrane Days" conference. As one of three founding directors, he began scientific operations in 1993, initially at the Teltow site, and headed the "Theory & Bio-Systems" department for 28 years. After completion of the institute building, the move to Potsdam took place in 1999, where the official inauguration took place in June.

As a theoretician, Reinhard Lipowsky worked and researched on a broad range of topics in chemical and biological physics. His focus was on synthetic biosystems. An important goal of his research was to understand the "hidden dimensions of self-organization." That is, how spatiotemporal patterns and remodeling processes emerge on mesoscopic scales from molecular building blocks and their interactions. To achieve such an understanding, he combined analytical theory with computer simulations and experimental studies. Synthetic biosystems consist of nanometer-scale molecular building blocks that self-assemble into molecular assemblies. These systems and processes form important modules for knowledge-based synthetic biology development. "On the one hand, we want to understand what holds us together at the core, that is, how the interplay of intermolecular and entropic forces creates ordered molecular assemblies. On the other hand, we are investigating what moves us at our innermost core, that is, how directed motions are generated despite thermal background noise, which are crucial for cargo transport and information processing at the nanoscale," Reinhard Lipowsky summarizes his work to date.

Reinhard Lipowsky was speaker of two "International Max Planck Research Schools" from 2000 to 2021, one on "Biomimetic Systems" and one on "Multiscale Biosystems", both of which he proposed. From 2014 to 2021, he was an active member of the "MaxSynBio Consortium" and is now a Fellow of the Max Planck School "Matter to Life". He also remains a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and holds honorary professorships at the University of Potsdam and the Humboldt University of Berlin. He will remain with the institute as head of an emeritus group.

Lipowsky studied physics at the University of Heidelberg and at Imperial College in London before earning his doctorate at the University of Munich with the distinction "summa cum laude". This was followed by research stays at Cornell University New York and at the Research Center Jülich. After his habilitation in 1987 at the University of Munich, he worked there as a professor. In 1990 he accepted a professorship at the University of Cologne and was head of the department "Theory II" at the Research Center Jülich.

The conference "Biomembrane Days:

The first "Biomembrane Days" took place exactly 10 years ago from September 19-21, 2012. Today, ten years later, their co-founder Reinhard Lipowsky is retiring. Membranes form the intricately shaped compartments of life. "Biomembrane Days" is a triennial meeting that highlights recent advances in the understanding of biomimetic and biological membranes. Key topics for "Biomembrane Days 2022" include cell and cell organelle morphology and shape changes, giant vesicles as synthetic cell systems, active cellular processes, cell surface glycans, and biomimetic materials and processes. The invited speakers include internationally renowned physicists, chemists and biologists, and the MPICI directors Peter Fratzl, Peter Seeberger and Markus Antonietti will also give lectures and greetings.

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