Max Planck Society

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Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science
Society's logo
Abbreviation MPG
Predecessor Kaiser Wilhelm Society[1]
Formation 26 February 1948[1]
Type non-profit research organization[1]
Headquarters Munich, Germany, EU[1]
Martin Stratmann
Main organ
€1.6 billion (2014)[2]

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 1948[1][3] and named in honor of its former president, theoretical physicist Max Planck. The society is funded by the federal and state governments of Germany as well as other sources.[2] The Max Planck Society is the successor to Kaiser Wilhelm Society established in 1911.[1]

According to its primary goal Max Planck Society supports fundamental research in the natural, life and social sciences, the arts and humanities in its 83 (as of January 2014)[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] Society budget for 2014 was about 1.6 billion.[2]

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 are generally regarded as the foremost basic research organization in Europe and the world. In 2013, the Nature Publishing Index placed the Max Planck institutes fifth worldwide in terms of research published in Nature journals (after Harvard, MIT, Stanford and the US NIH).[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

The Max Planck Society and its predecessor Kaiser Wilhelm Society hosted several renowned scientists in their fields, including Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Albert Einstein, to name a few.


The organization was established in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, or Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG), a non-governmental research organisation named for the then German emperor. The KWG was one of the world's leading research organisations; 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[7] 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.[8]

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

List of presidents of the KWG and the MPG[edit]


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.[9] The society has its registered seat in Berlin, while the administrative headquarters are located in Munich. In 2002 the cell biologist Peter Gruss assumed the office of President of the MPG. The materials scientist Martin Stratmann has been President of the Max Planck Society since June 2014.[10]

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

Max Planck Institutes and Research Groups[edit]

The Max Planck Society consists of over 80 research institutes.[11] 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 all over Germany and in other European countries. The society established its first non-European centre, with an institute on the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University focusing on neuroscience.[12][13]

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.

In addition, there are several associated institutes:[11]

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 UniversityMax Planck Princeton Research Center for Plasma Physics—located in Princeton, New Jersey, the U.S.[14]

International Max Planck Research Schools[edit]

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:

Former institutes[edit]

Among others:

Discrimination controversy[edit]

In 2004 there was a controversy regarding the employment of foreign workers. Allegedly, foreign PhD students were systematically granted worse contracts than Germans were. The case was brought to the European Civil Court by Andrea Raccanelli and is well documented on his website.[15] The court ruled that the MPG must observe the principle of non-discrimination in relation to workers.[16] Recent developments on the issue include an article in the German newspaper Der Spiegel denouncing unfair working conditions,[17] the reply by the MPS supporting the working conditions offered to PhD students,[18] and a complaint in Parliament by the German left-wing party Die Linke.[19]

Nobel Laureates[edit]

Max-Planck-Society (since 1948)[edit]

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Society (1914–48)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "About us | Organization". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 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. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "About us | Short Portrait". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Nature Publishing Index - 2013 Global Top 200, Nature Publishing Group
  5. ^ The titans: Institutional rankings by output and citations, Times Higher Education, 17 September 2009
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Top non-university institutions in science". Times Higher Education Supplement. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  8. ^ "Max Planck Society attracts almost 2m visitors online yearly". Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  9. ^ "MPG Organization". Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  10. ^ see Homepage of Martin Stratmann at
  11. ^ a b "Institutes | Max Planck Institutes". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience Website". 
  14. ^ "International - Max Planck Center / Partnerinstitute - Max Planck-Princeton Research Center for Plasma Physics". Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Documentary of the Lawsuit". Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  16. ^ "Summary of the Judgment". Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  17. ^ "German article about PhD working conditions in the MPS". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  18. ^ "Official MPS position on the issue of PhD funding". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  19. ^ "Recording of the intervention". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 


  • 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[edit]