The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is an independent, non-profit research organization, whose goal is to promote top quality research at its own institutes in Germany.

The 78 research institutes of the Max Planck Society conduct basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences, cultural, social and human sciences or legal studies. In particular, the Max Planck Society addresses new, innovative and interdisciplinary research areas. These interdisciplinary research areas often do not fit into the university organization, or they require more funds for personnel and equipment than those available at universities.
The variety of topics in the natural sciences and the humanities at Max Planck Institutes complement the work done at universities and other research facilities in important research fields.

In certain areas, the institutes occupy key positions, while other institutes complement ongoing research. Moreover, some institutes perform service functions for research performed at universities by providing equipment and facilities to a wide range of scientists, such as telescopes, large-scale equipment, specialized libraries, and documentary resources.

The Max Planck institutes and research facilities are divided into three Sections: the Chemistry, Physics and Technology (CPT) Section, the Biology and Medicine (BM) Section, and the Human Sciences (H) Section.