The Scientist, a magazine devoted to the life sciences, surveyed 2,350 people at 119 institutions to evaluate the qualities of a successful work environment, with particular focus on team building and unique funding opportunities. Max Planck in Dresden beat out facilities in Israel, Britain and the Netherlands to top the publications international list.
"Founded in 1998, (it) may be a young organisation, but it’s not run like one," The Scientist wrote in a statement founding its decision.
"The faculty here boasts of the Institute’s easy-to-navigate infrastructure, dedication to team building, strong collaboration among departments, and engaging social opportunities — qualities that scientists there rated highly enough to put it at number one among international institutions."
Academic institutions in Europe tend to be hierarchical, however, Marino Zerial, the managing director of the Max Planck Institute, told the magazine “all parts of faculty and administration (have) a voice” in Dresden.
Research directors, administrative supervisors and student representatives meet on a monthly basis to discuss inter-departmental issues and the direction of the institute. This type of environment promotes teamwork, said Zerial and “allows a cell biologist like myself to work on a project, in say biophysics, even without experience in physics.”
But the institute also tries to nurture its scientists with cultural activities such as an annual Christmas show highlighting theatre, cabaret, classical and jazz performances on campus.
"Last year we had our first rock performance, which was great," said Zerial.
The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology has 400 full-time research scientists and receives €19 million in German and EU funding. It is one of 80 institutes in the Max Planck Society, an independent, non-profit organisation in Germany. Founded in 1948, Max Planck has 17 Nobel Prize winners among its ranks.