Physical Glycosciences

Research Group Leonhard Möckl

Welcome to the Research Group Physical Glycoscience

We are an independent research group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen. Our research is located at the intersection of optics, biochemistry, glycobiology and biomedicine. Our mission is to use an transdisciplinary approach to gain new insights into basic cell biology and to translate these findings into clinical applications.

Tracking down the glycocalyx with super high-resolution microscopy

The glycocalyx is the cell's calling card: it surrounds every cell in the human body like a "sweet husk". This coat is highly complex and consists of thousands of different sugar structures that are either free or bound to proteins, lipids or RNA on the cell surface. As the glycocalyx is the outermost part of the cell, it is also the first interaction partner for the cellular environment, be it hormones, nutrients, pathogens or other cells. Leonhard Möckl and his team's research focuses on the molecular organization of the glycocalyx, how it is influenced by genetic changes - both physiological and pathological - and how these changes in turn regulate cellular processes. The research group uses a broad spectrum of methods, ranging from super-resolution microscopy  (especially dSTORM and DNA-PAINT) and cell and glycobiological methods todeep learning and AI-based experimental designs.


Research Group Leonhard Möckl

MPI for the Science of Light

Staudtstr. 2

91058 Erlangen, Germany

+49 9131 7133115

Complex sugar structures on the cell surface to shine light on cancer development and immune system regulation


Leonhard Möckl has been researching the glycocalyx – a highly complex structure of sugars that surrounds every cell in the body – for over 10 years. The research group leader for Physical Glycosciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen has now received three grants totalling around 580,000 euros for his research projects.

Arnold Sommerfeld Prize goes to Leonhard Möckl


The Bavarian Academy of Science (BAdW) awarded the Arnold Sommerfeld Prize 2023 to Dr. Leonhard Möckl, research group leader at MPL. Er wird für seinen wichtigen Beitrag zur Aufklärung der Rolle der Glycocalyx geehrt. How the state of the cell and the state of the glycocalyx influence each other both in a healthy body and in disease is a major research topic for the scientist.

Read more

Our Team

"We employ advanced optics to unravel the functional role of the glycocalyx in health and disease"

Research team leader Dr. Leonhard Möck

Here you can find the scientific curriculum vitae of Dr. Leonhard Möckl.



MPL Research Centers and Schools