A Glance in the Past: FLI's History
How It All Started: ZIMET and IMB
The origins of FLI go back to the period of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The “Central Institute for Microbiology and Experimental Therapy – ZIMET” on the campus at Beutenberg in Jena was one of the largest biomedical non-university research institutions of the GDR in the mid-1980s. Its research focused on antimicrobial compounds. In 1991, two research insitutes emerged from the ZIMET: the Hans Knöll Institute for Natural Product Research (HKI) and the Institut for Molecular Biotechnolgy (IMB), which was placed on the “Blue List” (since 1997 the "Leibniz Association"). The focus of the IMB centered on basic and translational research in the area of molecular biotechnology with particular emphasis on diagnosis and therapy of human diseases. IMB’s contribution to the world-wide Human Genome Project – IMB had participated in the sequencing of chromosomes 8, 21 and X – made the institute well known domestically and internationally.
New Research Orientation – New Name: The IMB turns into FLI
With Professor Peter Herrlich as Scientific Director, the institute developed a new research mission which centered on the mechanisms of aging and age-related disease. IMB was renamed as Leibniz Institute for Age Research – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) and thereby became the first national research institute in Germany dedicated to broad biomedical research on aging. In 2012, internationally renowned stem cell expert Professor Karl Lenhard Rudolph joined the FLI as new Scientific Director, adding stem cell aging, genome integrity and systems biology to FLI’s research focus. In October 2015, the institute’s name was adapted to its research focus even more precisely: Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI).
A Pioneer of Aging Research:
The Leibniz Institute on Aging’s name commemorates Fritz Lipmann, an outstanding German-American biochemist who contributed substantially to our understanding of the foundations of aging.
Fritz Lipmann was born into a Jewish family in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad). He initially studies medicine and later chemistry and pharmacology in Königsberg, Munich, and Berlin. He conducted research in Copenhagen after 1930, then in Boston and New York beginning in 1949.
A considerable part of Lipmann’s work involved the metabolism of energy compounds in cells. He recognized that the ATP molecule (adenosine triphosphate) functions as the main transporter and source of energy in the cell and that coenzyme A was an important intermediary in fat metabolism. Fritz Lipmann was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine together with the German biochemist Hans Krebs in 1953.
His insight into the relationship between metabolism, life expectancy and the reduction in energy production by mitochondria in aging organs laid the foundations for cell-based research on aging.