Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, PhD

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, PhD
Director, Department of Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, PhD | Class of 2014

An early interest in genetics and developmental abnormalities led Dr. Nüsslein-Volhard to study bicaudal mutations in Drosophila. Her work led to a 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which she shared with Eric Weinhaus and Edward Lewis. She and her colleagues identified early patterning genes in Drosophila that possess similar homologues in humans. They described this work in a landmark Nature paper published in 1980. This study garnered significant attention since it described how only a limited number of genes are responsible for controlling development. The importance of their research was subsequently applied to understanding the genetic causes of spontaneous abortions in humans.

Although best known for her work involving genetic mutations in Drosophila, Dr. Nüsslein-Volhard also studies basic developmental patterns in zebrafish. She is also credited with co-discovering Toll genes, which encode toll-like receptor (TLR) proteins involved in innate immune responses. Collectively, Dr. Nüsslein-Volhard’s research has revolutionized our understanding of the genes necessary for normal development. These findings have since proven crucial for ongoing investigations into the pathogenesis of cancer.

Career Highlights

​2013  AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship
2004-2009  Secretary-General, European Molecular Biology Organization
1995  Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
1993  Ernst Schering Prize
1992  Prix Louis-Jeantet de médecine, Fondation Louis-Jeantet
1991  Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award
1992  Gregor Mendel Medal, Genetics Society, UK
1990  Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science
1990  Mattia Award, Roche Institute of Molecular Biology
1990  Elected Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
1990  Elected Foreign Member, The Royal Society, London
1989  Carus Prize of the German Academy of Sciences, Schweinfurth
1988  Carus Medal of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Halle
1986  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, German Research Foundation
1973  PhD, Eberhard-Karl University, Tübingen