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Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, PhD

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, PhD

Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
Tübingen, Germany

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, United Kingdom
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, D.C.
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