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In the first phase of the institute (originally founded in1954 as MPI for Virus Research) my work was on the role of the nucleic acid as genetic material of tobacco mosaic virus, and the formation and function of polyribosomes in protein synthesis. We then changed fields, taking up developmental biology with Hydra as model system. The processes of regeneration of dissected parts, and of cell aggregates derived from this polyp are prototypical for the de novo generation of spatial patterns in the development of organisms. In this context, a project developed in cooperation with Hans Meinhardt is our theory of biological pattern formation based on self-enhancing activation in conjunction with “lateral” inhibitory effects of wider range. In addition, subjects of my research are philosophical and historical aspects of the life sciences, and their foundation in physical laws and processes.
Gierer A (1985) "Die Physik, das Leben und die Seele". Piper, München [PDF]
Gierer A (2008) Brain, mind and limitations of a scientific theory of human consciousness. BioEssays 30, 499-505. [PDF]
Gierer A (2012) The Hydra model – a model for what?.Int.J.Dev.Biol. 56, 437-445 [PDF]