The Gene Center was established in 1984 by Ernst Ludwig Winnacker as a joint enterprise between the LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institutes in Martinsried, with the aim of establishing gene technology in Germany for medical and industrial applications. The Gene Center was initially housed in the MPI of Biochemistry in Martinsried until it moved to its current building in Großhadern in 1994, thereby setting the stage for the establishment of the LMU’s new HighTechCampus dedicated to life sciences education and research. From 1999 to 2003, the Gene Center was led by Rudolf Grosschedl, and from 2004 to 2013 by Patrick Cramer. Since 2014, the Center is headed by Eckhard Wolf as Managing Director and Ulrike Gaul as Director of the Department of Biochemistry. From the beginning, the Gene Center has played a leading role in shaping science and science policy in Germany. It was the first institute to introduce independent junior groups and, later, tenure track positions, and it helped make Munich/Martinsried a thriving location for the emerging biotech industry.
Over the past 8 years, the Gene Center has grown substantially. External funding tripled and the number of employees rose from 150 to 320. The scientific output has increased concordantly, as judged by number of publications in top journals and scientific awards. Between 2009 and 2012, 429 scientific articles were published, 29 in the leading journals Nature, Science, and Cell. Group leaders of the Gene Center received, among other honors, five EMBO Young Investigator Awards, two junior and four senior ERC grants, two Leibniz Prizes and one Alexander von Humboldt-Professorship.