The Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) at the University of Tübingen was inaugurated in May 1999. After five years of joint funding with the State Government of Baden-Württemberg, the University of Tübingen took over the funding and allocated staff positions to the ZMBP. Research at the ZMBP is regularly evaluated by an International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), whose members are also consulted about the appointment of new group leaders.
Within its first decade, the ZMBP has established itself as a leading center for plant molecular research and gained broad recognition within the international scientific community. The research-friendly structures at the ZMBP also serve as a model for institutions at other universities. ZMBP groups contribute substantially to the DFG-funded Local Research Program (SFB 446) on “Mechanisms of Cell Behaviour”. The ZMBP participates in the initiative “Plant Molecular Biology - South West” which coordinates research and teaching at the Universities of Tübingen, Ulm and Hohenheim. An important aim of the ZMBP is to provide young scientists with a platform for career opportunities. Success in this area is demonstrated by 13 members who left the ZMBP to take up appointments as professors at universities in Germany and abroad. As a consequence, the ZMBP has seen a substantial turnover of groups, a process that keeps this institution young and open to novel topics and ideas.
A key feature of the ZMBP is its departmental structure. Independent research groups supported by central service facilities replaced the former Chairs (“Lehrstühle”) of General Genetics, Developmental Genetics and Plant Physiology belonging the Faculty of Biology. Since 2003, the former Chair of Plant Biochemistry, Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacology, forms an integral part and implements the inter-faculty structure of the ZMBP.
At present, the ZMBP research groups are spread over several buildings on the Sciences Campus. A new building for the entire ZMBP has been planned and approved by the University of Tübingen, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the German Government. Construction will begin in the second half of 2009 and the move to this building is planned for 2012. This new center will certainly be highly beneficial for cooperation, synergism and the efficient use of resources by the different ZMBP research groups.
In the 10 years of its existence, research activities at the ZMBP have been maintained at high level as documented in the progress reports and publications of the individual groups. This success strongly depends on the excellent contributions of dedicated graduate students and postdocs. Currently, there are some 50 Ph.D. students enrolled at the ZMBP. Several of the Ph.D. theses submitted in the past years were awarded prizes for their outstanding scientific quality.
Tübingen, February 2009
Georg Felix, Rita Gross-Hardt, Klaus Harter, Gerd Jürgens, Thorsten Nürnberger, Claudia Oecking, Fritz Schöffl