Dr. Jochen Rink

Director at the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences

  • 1997 - 2000 Bachelor of Arts, Christ’s College, Cambridge University, Cambridge (UK)
  • 2000 - 2006 Dr. rer. nat. with Prof. Marino Zerial at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden
  • 2006 - 2011 Postdoctoral Research with Alejandro Sanchez-Alvarado, Howard Hughes Institute/University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, (USA)
  • 2011 - 2019 Independent Max Planck Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden
  • Since 2019 Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Goettingen

Major Research Interests

Regeneration, the ability of many animal or plant species to re-grow lost body parts, raises many intriguing questions. For example, what defines the shape, size, and proportions of the regenerating body part? After an injury, how can the remaining tissue ‘sense’ what’s missing? Why is that regeneration seemingly the exception rather than the rule? Or why
We use planarian flatworms as model system. Thanks to their abundant pluripotent adult stem cells, many planarian species have the fascinating ability to regenerate complete animals from tiny tissue pieces. Moreover, they continuously renew all cell types even in absence of injury and the resulting dynamic tissue architecture manifests for example in the food-supply dependent bi-directional scaling of body size over a > 40-fold range in body length, a >800-fold range in cell numbers or close to a 10,000 fold range in weight1. And some species continuously grow and shrink, while others age and die.

Our department uses a highly interdisciplinary compendium of methods to study these fascinating phenomena. We probe the self-organizing signaling systems that specify the planarian body plan in terms of biochemistry and cell biology2,3. We sequence genomes4 and develop functional genomics approaches in order to understand how patterning signals program stem cell progeny fate choices or how signaling networks form spatial activity patterns. We explore the quantitative basis of pattern formation, scaling, and size specification in close collaborations with physicists and theoreticians1,2,5. And through worldwide field sampling, we maintain a “zoo” of > 50 planarian species to mechanistically compare regenerative abilities6, body sizes and shapes, organismal life spans, or reproductive strategies between species.

In a nutshell: We study fundamental molecular/cell biological mechanisms and how and why they change in evolution.

Homepage Department / Research Group


Selected Recent Publications

  • Thommen A*, Werner S*, Frank O*, Alt N, Richter J, Philipp J, Knittelfelder O, Quek Y, Fahmy K, Shevchenko A, Friedrich BM, Juelicher F, Rink JC (2019) Body size-dependent energy storage causes Kleiber’s law scaling in planarians. eLife 8:e38187

  • Stueckemann T, Cleland JP, Werner S, Thi-Kim Vu H, Bayersdorf R, Liu SY, Friedrich B, Juelicher F, Rink JC (2017) Antagonistic Self-Organizing Patterning Systems Control Maintenance and Regeneration of the Anteroposterior Axis in Planarians. Dev Cell 40(3):248-263

  • Thi-Kim Vu H*, Mansour S*, Blasse C, Kuecken M, Basquin C, Azimzadeh J, Myers G, Brusch L, Rink JC (2019) Multi-scale coordination of planar cell polarity in planarians. Dev Cell, in press

  • Grohme M, Schloissnig S, Rozanski A, Pippel M, Young G, Winkler S, Brandl H, Henry I, Dahl A, Powell S, Hiller M, Myers E, Rink JC (2018) The genome of S. mediterranea and the evolution of cellular core mechanisms. Nature 554(7690):56-61

  • Werner S, Stueckemann T, Amigo MB, Rink JC, Juelicher F, Friedrich B (2015). Scaling and regeneration of self-organized patterns. Phys Rev Lett 114:138101

  • Liu SY, Selck C, Friedrich B, Lutz R, Vila-Farre M, Dahl A, Brandl H, Lakshmanaperumal N, Henry I, Rink JC (2013) Reactivating head regrowth in a regeneration-deficient planarian species. Nature 500(7460):81-4