Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard – Germany

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (born October 20, 1942 in Magdeburg) is a German biologist who won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1991 and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995, together with Eric Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis, for their research on the genetic control of embryonic development … (full text).

She is Director of Abteilung 3 (Genetics), of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology … (CV).

Her Autobiography.

She says: … “I would like to thank my collaborators, past and present, for their contributions: for their skill, understanding, thoughtfulness, brilliance, patience, enthusiasm, and support. I also wish to thank Siegfried Roth, Stefan Schulte-Merker, Stefan Meyer, Darren Gilmour, Nancy Hopkins, Peter Overath, Michael Granato and Judith Kimble for suggestions and help with the manuscript” … (Lecture on the occasion of the Nobel award, December 8, 1995, 22 pages).

Her Homepage at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology.


Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard – Germany

Nüsslein-Volhard and Wieschaus introduced “Big Science” into biology by conducting a spectacularly successful large-scale mutagenesis project that illuminated the embryonic development program of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster … (full text).

See a video (and click on play), 6.36 min.

Press releases of the Nobel-Committee: The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute has today decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1995 jointly to Edward B. Lewis, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric F. Wieschaus for their discoveries concerning “the genetic control of early embryonic development”, and the photos of the three laureates.

Her current work.

She writes: … Basic research on a good model system has thus led to powerful insights that might one day help us understand human development. What these insights have already provided is a satisfying answer to one of the most profound questions in nature – how complexity arises from initial simplicity … (in: Gradients That Organize Embryo Development, A few crucial molecular signals give rise to chemical gradients that organize the developing embryo).

Solving a Mystery of Life, Then Tackling a Real-Life Problem.

For the discovery of genes that control development in animals and humans , and the demonstration of morphogen gradients in the fly embryo she has received a number of awards and honors, among others the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award, New York, the Prix Louis Jeantet de Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland, the Ernst Schering Price, Berlin, and the Nobel Price for Medicine or Physiology in 1995. She is recipient of honorary degrees of the Universities Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Rockefeller Universities (USA), Utrecht (the Netherlands) , UC London, University of Oxford and Sheffield (UK), Freiburg and Munich (Germany). Memberships: foreign member of the Royal Society, London, UK, and the National Academy, Wash. US, and member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the Leopoldina, Halle, the Berlin/Brandenburg Academy, and the Order Pour Le Mérite, Berlin. She is secretary general of EMBO and member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council. She is a member of the Senate of the Max-Planck-Society and the National Ethics Council of Germany as well as several advisory boards and committees. She is president of the Gesellschaft deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte. She has founded the CNV-Foundation to support women in Science with children … (full text).

The Wnt Signaling Pathway – A Retrospective Look at 25 Years of Research, May 7, 2008.

She says also (on the question: Why is it still so hard for women to reach the highest levels of scientific professions?): “It’s very hard work, you know, it really is hard work, and it requires that one be single-minded, because these jobs demand so very much of your time. I think women do not really like that so much, and often you observe that they’re less ambitious, that they’re easier to intimidate. I’m not sure why. I think there are profound differences between women and men. In intelligence and creativity there is no difference, but in what one loves, what one likes, the passions — there are differences” … (full interview text).

Neurophilosophy: the role of Hox genes in development.

She says also: Q. It’s often said that artistic work and scientific inquiry are similar. Do you find it so?
A. Yes and no. It is certainly a creative act to understand phenomena in nature. But after some time, scientific discoveries no longer depend on the personality of the scientist. Whoever discovered the double helix, it is true. It doesn’t matter whether Watson and Crick discovered it, or Rosalind Franklin. Yet, no matter how much time passes, Mozart is still Mozart.
Q. Every article I’ve read about you mentions that you bake an incredible chocolate cake. Why is that?
A. It’s true! They want to make sure “she’s still a woman.” There is terrible prejudice against women who are successful. If she’s beautiful, she must be stupid. And if a woman is smart, she must be ugly — or nasty. I think it makes some people feel better to learn I bake good chocolate cake. (full interview text).

Find her and her publications on Encyclopædia Britannica online; on NNDB; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.



the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize;

Toll To Be Paid at the Gateway to the Vessel Wall Göran K. Hansson; Kristina Edfeldt, From the Center for Molecular Medicine and Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden;

The Nobel Prize Internet Archive;

Science Heroes;

Life, a Nobel Story.

Comments are closed.