Germany's major scientific society, the Max Planck Society, has elected a prominent developmental biologist as its new president. Peter Gruss, 52, will take over next June from biologist Hubert Markl, who plans to return to research and teaching at the University of Konstanz after leading the society for 6 years.
Gruss, currently head of the department of molecular cell biology at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Götingen, studies genes that control the development of the nervous system, eye, and pancreas. Like Markl, he has been outspoken in his support for allowing German researchers to work with human embryonic stem cells, an issue the government is still debating. As MPI president he will be an articulate advocate for all areas of science, predicts developmental neurobiologist Wolfgang Wurst of the MPI for Psychiatry in Munich.
Gruss does not have as much administrative experience as Markl, who came to Max Planck after heading the German research granting agency, the DFG. But Gruss should bring "a fresh perspective," says neuroscientist Tobias Bonhoeffer, director of the MPI for neurobiology in Martinsried.