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20.10.2017 By: Sarah Hailer

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard - passion, creativity and verve for biological research

Nobel laureate Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard turns 75 today


Tübingen, 20th  October 2017. Today Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard celebrates her 75th anniversary. The Nobel Prize winner currently works on the molecular and genetic background of colour pattern formation in animals and is the leader of an Emeritus-research group at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. In 2016 Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard received one of the coveted Advanced Grants of the European Research Council (ERC). The ERC supports projects that have the potential for a scientific breakthrough in their research area thanks to ambitious ideas, unconventional methods, and a pioneering spirit.

Presently, as Director emeritus, she is leading the research group “colour pattern formation” with the same enthusiasm and ambition for research as ever. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard was awarded with the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1995 for her research on the embryonic development in the fruit fly. Nüsslein-Volhard has been a director at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, 1985-2015.

In her current research project “Danio pattern” she investigates colour pattern formation in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and its diversification in closely related species. “Colour patterns play a crucial role in evolution, since they have important functions in the social interactions of animals such as mate choice, skin recognition, or camouflage. Still, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood”, explains Nüsslein-Volhard. Zebrafish display a striking pattern of longitudinal blue and golden stripes. A large number of genetic variants and established in vivo imaging methods make the zebrafish an attractive model to study pattern formation. The pattern of Zebrafish is caused by the interactions of three pigment cell types, yellow, silver and black, arranged in superimposed layers in the skin. Other Danio species display quite different patterns. “If we find the genes underlying the variation of the colour patterns in Danio species, it means a big step forward towards understanding the evolution of bio-diversity”, states Nüsslein-Volhard.

Biology, however, is not Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard's only activity as she has a wide scope of hobbies such as singing – with or without an audience-  and family music-making. In 2004 she formed a foundation that aims to provide young female scientists with children the freedom and mobility they need to pursue a career. Nüsslein-Volhard has also published books aimed at a wider audience, explaining her field of research. Hence she loves having guests and celebrate with them but never had much time to spend in the kitchen, she also published a book about quick and easy cooking for special occasions.

About Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard has been a director at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, 1985-2015. Presently, as Director emeritus, she is leading the research group “colour pattern formation”. For her discoveries of genes regulating the development of animals and humans, as well as of gradients responsible for pattern formation in the fly embryo, she received numerous awards, honorary doctorates, and prizes, amongst others the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG) (1986), the Albert Lasker Award (1991) and the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine (1995). She is a member of the Royal Society, England, the National Academy, USA, the Académie Francaise and the order Pour le mérite (chancellor since 2013). She was a member of various committees, like the Senate of the Max Planck Society, the National Ethics Council (2002-2007) and the scientific council of the ERC (2007-2012).

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
Tel.: 07071 601- 489
E-Mail: office-cnv@tuebingen.mpg.de

Sarah Hailer (PR Officer)
Phone: +49 7071 601- 444
E-mail: presse-eb@tuebingen.mpg.de

About us
The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology conducts basic research in the fields of biochemistry, genetics and evolutionary biology. It employs about 350 people and is located at the Max Planck Campus in Tuebingen, Germany. The Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology is one of 80 research institutes that the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science maintains in Germany.

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (credit: momentum-photo.com/MPI für Entwicklungsbiologie Tübingen)