Rudolf Jaenisch, MD

Rudolf Jaenisch, MD
​Founding Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research; Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Rudolf Jaenisch, MD | Class of 2016

​A cancer research pioneer, Dr. Jaenisch is renowned for developing transgenic mouse models in collaboration with Dr. Beatrice Mintz. Their collective research was the first to validate that exogenous DNA could be introduced into the germline of mouse embryos and that such DNA could successfully integrate into the genome of a donor mouse and be transmitted to that mouse's offspring. This discovery has led to innumerable studies including those involving insertional mutagenesis to define genes that are essential for normal development as well as carcinogenesis. 

Dr. Jaenisch is also well known for leading one of the three laboratories that generated inducible pluripotent cells (iPS) from murine cells. He showed that iPS cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state and that these cells may be utilized to treat a variety of diseases. Specifically, he has studied the therapeutic potential of these cells to treat sickle-cell anemia and Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Jaenisch has been a leader in the emerging field of epigenetics, studying how various post-translational modifications are capable of guiding and altering not only gene expression, but also normal developmental processes such as genomic imprinting and X-chromosome inactivation. This research has highlighted the importance of various epigenetic marks, namely methylation in normal physiology as well as cancer. Collectively, Dr. Jaenisch's work has revolutionized cancer biology by providing invaluable tools with which to investigate the complexities of cancer in vitro and in vivo.

Career Highlights

​2015  March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology
2014  Otto Warburg Medal
2013  Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science
2011  National Medal of Science, National Science Foundation
2011  Wolf Prize in Medicine
2009  Ernst Schering Prize
2009  Order Pour le Mérite, Federal Republic of Germany
2008  Meira and Shaul G. Massry Prize
2007  Vilcek Foundation Prize for Achievements of Prominent Immigrants
2006  Max Delbrück Medal in Molecular Medicine
2003  Charles Rodolphe Brupacher Prize for Cancer, Zürich, Switzerland
2002  Robert Koch Prize for Excellence in Scientific Achievement
2001  Gruber Prize in Genetics
1996  Boehringer Mannheim Molecular Bioanalytics Prize
1967  MD, University of Munich, Germany