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Monika Zaba receives Young Academics Award

29.04.2014 17:00
Connectomics: The dense reconstruction of neuronal circuits
Dr. Moritz Helmstaedter, Structure of Neocortical Circuits Group


History of the Institute


At the request of the "Deutscher Verein für psychiatrie" (German Society of Psychiatry), Emil Kraepelin explores the possibility of foundation  "an institute for psychiatric research".


In January, James Loeb, an American banker, private scholar and patron of science of Jewish-German origin, donates the first 500.000 Reichsmark for the future Institute. Through a contract with the City of Munich, Kraepelin reserves a building site for a psychiatric research institute in the north of the newly established Urban Hospital of  Schwabing.


After promise of further financial means by patrons of science, e. g. Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, the Bavarian King Ludwig III establishes the public foundation "Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Psychiatrie in München, DFA" (German Research Institute of Psychiatry in Munich) on February 13th. For lack of own rooms, at the beginning, the Institute is housed in the Neuropathic Hospital of the University of Munich (Nußbaumstraße). Beginning of scientific work with the following departments: Histopathology I (Franz Nissl), Histopathology II (Walther Spielmeyer), Histotopography (Korbinian Brodmann), Psychiatric Research on Heredity (Ernst Rüdin) and Experimental Psychology (Emil Kraepelin and Johannes Lange).

1919 After the deaths of Nissl and Brodmann closing of the departments Histopathology I and Histotopography.
1922 In October opening of a Clinical Department in the Urban Hospital Munich-Schwabing, originally meant as „Psychiatric Accommodation Ward for Female Invalids". Up to the 1930ies, the clinic is expanded to approx. 120 beds. Further donations of Loeb and his relatives secure the economical existence of the DFA up to the beginning of the 1930ies as a privately financed Research Institute.


Incorporation of the DFA into the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften (KWG) (K.W. Society for the Promotion of Sciences) by decision of the Senate of the KWG and the Foundation Board of the DFA of March 18th.


The Rockefeller-Foundation grants 325.000 $ for financing of a separate building of the Institute, which is then constructed by the architect Carl Sattler according to the guidelines of Kraepelin on the site to the north of the Urban Hospital Munich-Schwabing. After the death of Kraepelin on October 7th, the neuropathologist Walther Spielmeyer takes over the management of the Institute.


In June inauguration of the new building of the Institute in Kraepelinstraße 2. For this reason, the Golden Kraepelin-Medal is conferred for the first time to Oscar Vogt as a special award for his scientific performances in the field of psychiatry. Under the department leaders Walther Spielmeyer (Neuropathology), Felix Plaut (Serology), Ernst Rüdin (Genealogy and Demography), Kurt Schneider (Clinic) and Franz Jahnel (Research on Spirochäten), the DFA gets worldwide recognition as one of the leading psychiatric research institutes.



On April 1st, Ernst Rüdin takes over the leadership of the DFA as Managing Director.


After the death of  Walther Spielmeyer on February 6th, Willibald Scholz is in charge of the Department of Neuropathology. Felix Plaut (Leader of the Department of Serology) und Kurt Neubürger (Leader of the Department of Pathology in the Psychiatric Hospital Eglfing-Haar which belongs to the Institute) are dismissed due to their Jewish origin. Rüdins focus of work on psychiatric genetics of populations, his programme of racial hygiene and his functions in the governmental health care of the National Socialism are determining the work at the Institute more and more.


During World War II, research work is on the one hand constrained to a large extent; on the other hand, there is a contribution to projects which are „important for war“. In the Department of Neuropathology resp. in the Department of Pathology, brains of victims of the "T4-mission" are examined.


The building of the Institute is extremely damaged by consequences of war. Research activities are only possible to a minor degree until the middle of the 1950ies. Willibald Scholz takes over the management.

1946 The clinic of the Hospital Schwabing is used as a military hospital for the troops by the US-military Government in Bavaria and is therefore not available to the Institute any more. That is why the previous Head of the Department, Kurt Schneider, agrees to accept the professorship offered to him in Heidelberg.


By order of the Senate on March 28th, the DFA is incorporated into the Max Planck Society (MPS) as successive institution of the KWG under maintenance of the foundation of 1917. Organisationally, the DFA is divided into an Institute of Brain Pathology (Willibald Scholz) and a Clinical Institute (Werner Wagner). Parts of the Clinical Institute are the dependent Departments of Genealogy and Demography (Bruno Schulz) as well as the Department of Biochemistry (Horst Jatzkewitz); parts of the Institute of Brain Pathology are the dependent Departments of Serology and Microbiology (Gerd Poetschke) as well as the Department of Pathology (Hans Schleussing). A Department of Cytochemistry is newly founded under the leadership of Feodor Lynen.

1956 Transformation of the Department Lynen into an independent Max Planck Institute of Cytochemistry, future MPI of Biochemistry.
1961 Klaus Conrad, who had already been appointed Director of the Clinical Department, dies before taking up his work. Gerd Peters takes over the Department of Neuropathology as successor of Willibald Scholz. Organization of a Department of Experimental Ethology by Detlev Ploog.
1962 Building up of a Department of Neuropharmacology by Albert Herz, a Department of Experimental Neurophysiology by Otto Creutzfeldt and a Department of Comparative Neurophysiology by Dietrich Schneider. Organizationally, the Institute is subdivided into a clinical and a theoretical part. The "Prosektur" at the Hospital of Haar, which had belonged to the Institute in former times, is closed.
1964 In addition to Ethology, Detlev Ploog takes over the Clinical Institute, Johannes C. Brengelmann the Department of Psychology. Dietrich Schneider change to the MPI of Ethology in Seewiesen as successor of Erich von Holst.
1965 Building up of an independent Research Center of the MPS of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy under the leadership of Paul Matussek.


Opening of the new Research Clinic in Kraepelinstrasse 10 on March 29th under the management of Detlev Ploog. The name of the Institute is changed into "Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (German Research Institute of Psychiatry)”. Detlev von Zerssen is in charge of Psychiatry of Adults, Wilhelm Feuerlein of the Policlinic. Gerd Peters is Director of the Whole Institute, the Theoretical Part of the Institute and the Neuropathological Department. The interest of research is extended to all important fields of psychiatry and the basic sciences close to them.

1971 Gerd Peters assigns the management of the whole Institute to Detlev Ploog. Otto Creutzfeldt goes to the MPI of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen as Director of the Department of Neurobiology.
1974 After the emeritus status has been conferred on Gerd Peters, Albert Herz takes over the leadership of the Theoretical Part of the Institute. Dieter Lux is appointed Leader of the Department of Neurophysiology.
1977 Hans Thoenen is in charge of the Department of Neurochemistry as successor of Horst Jatzekewitz.
1978 Georg W. Kreutzberg is in charge of the Department of Neuromorphology at the Theoretical Part of the Institute.
1981 Hans Thoenen takes over the leadership of the Theoretical Part of the Institute.


On April 3rd, inauguration of the building of the Theoretical Part of the Institute in  Martinsried in the immedidate vicinity of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. The Departments of Neurochemistry (Hans Thoenen), Neuromorphology (Georg W. Kreutzberg), Neuropharmacology (Albert Herz) and Neurophysiology (Dieter Lux) are moved there. The Clinical Department, the Department of Ethology and the Department of Psychology remain in Kraepelinstraße. Closure of the independent Research Center of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy after retirement of Paul Matussek.

1988 Hartmut Wekerle is in charge of the Department of Neuroimmunology which is newly founded at the Theoretical Part of the Institute.


On the retirement of Detlev Ploog, Florian Holsboer takes over the management of the Clinical Institute. The buildings of the Institute in Kraepelinstraße are renovated and enlarged by a new laboratory wing. Depression and diseases associated with fear become the focal themes of research.


Spin-off of the former Theoretical Part of the Institute into a seperate Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology. From now on, only the Clinical Part of the Institute bears the name „Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry“.