Max Planck research groups at MPIDS

Biologische Physik und Morphogenese (Prof. Dr. Karen Alim)
How can an organism grow to form a desired structure and pattern? Understanding the morphogenesis of an organism, the collective self-organization of cells that gives rise to a functional structure is at the heart of decoding life. We aim to identify the rules of development by studying the physical principles underlying the formation and adaption of biological organisms. Currently we investigate the mechanics of plant growth and the fluid dynamics enabling the slime mold Physarum polycephalum to adapt its network-like body to its environment.
Biomedizinische Physik (Prof. Dr. Stefan Luther)
Even though cardiac fibrillation is one of the most common causes of death in western industrial nations this condition is still not completely understood. Therefore, the members of the Max Planck Research Group develop mathematical models that describe cardiac fibrillation and simulate the illness in experiments. Apart from that the scientists study methods of treatment such as a new pulsed heart defibrillator that requires less energy and is therefore gentler to the patients.
Statistical physics of evolving systems (Dr. Armita Nourmohammad)
Darwinian evolution is an act of information processing: populations sense and measure the state of their environment and adapt by changing their configurations accordingly. Changes of the environment result in an irreversible out-of-equilibrium adaptive evolution, with a constant flow of information.  Our goal is to understand the biological limits of information processing in evolving populations. We study a wide range of biological systems, including rapid evolution of viruses such as HIV, somatic evolution of cellular populations in the adaptive immune system of vertebrates, and adaptive evolution of gene regulation. Although distinct in many of their biological characteristics, we aim to identify common features in their biophysical principles, and ultimately to devise a common framework for a predictive description their evolutionary dynamics.
Neural Systems Theory (Dr. Viola Priesemann)
What are the principles that allow the brain, a complex network of neurons, to process information, to form thoughts and actions? The group of Viola Priesemann tackles this question by combining approaches from information theory and statistical physics with state of the art neurophysiological recordings.
Turbulenz, komplexe Strömungen und aktive Materie (Dr. Michael Wilczek)
Despite its omnipresence and relevance in nature and engineering, a comprehensive understanding of turbulent flows remains elusive. From the viewpoint of theoretical physics fully developed turbulence constitutes a paradigm of a complex system with a large number of strongly interacting degrees of freedom far from equilibrium. The aim of the research group is to contribute to our understanding of turbulent flows by means of statistical theories, modeling, and numerical simulations. Besides studying fundamental aspects of turbulent flows, we furthermore strive for the transfer of most recent theoretical concepts to applied problems such as atmospheric turbulence and wind energy conversion.
Theorie biologischer Flüssigkeiten <span>(Dr. David Zwicker)</span>
In contrast to most man-made machines, biological organisms are typically built from soft and often fluid-like material. How can such liquid matter be controlled in space and time to fulfill precise functions? To uncover the physical principles for such organization, we analyze theoretical models of biological processes using tools from statistical physics, dynamical system theory, fluid dynamics, and information theory. In particular, we study how phase separation is used to organize the liquid interior of cells and how the airflow during inhalation affects the transport of airborne odorants and thus the sense of smell.
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