Curriculum Vitae

  • Study of Biology, Chemistry, Physics in Frankfurt/M, Diploma in Biochemistry, University of Tübingen, 1969. PhD (Genetics) Tübingen, 1973.
  • Postdoc in the laboratories of Walter Gehring, Basel, and Klaus Sander, Freiburg.
  • Group leader at the EMBL, Heidelberg (1978-1981) and the FML of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Tübingen (1981-1984).
  • From 1985 to 2014 Director at the Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology, Tübingen. From 2005 to 2012 managing Director of the Friedrich-Miescher-Laboratory, Tübingen.
  • From 2014 to 2022 Director Emeritus of Research Group "Colour Pattern Formation" at the Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology, Tübingen.

For the discovery of genes that control development in animals, 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 (USA), the Prix Louis Jeantet de Médecine, Geneva (Switzerland), the Ernst Schering Price, Berlin (Germany), and the Nobel Price for Medicine or Physiology in 1995. She is recipient of honorary degrees of the Universities Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Rockefeller (USA), Utrecht (the Netherlands), UC London, Oxford, Sheffield and StAndrews (UK), Weizmann Institute Rehovot, Israel, and Freiburg and Munich (Germany). Memberships: foreign member of the Royal Society, London (UK), and the National Academy, Washington (USA); member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the Leopoldina, Halle, the Berlin/Brandenburg Academy, the Order Pour Le Mérite, Berlin, and the Académie des Sciences, Paris. She was secretary general of the EMBO 2002-2009 and president of the Gesellschaft deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte 2008. She has been a member of the Senate of the Max Planck Society, the National Ethics Council of Germany and several advisory boards and committees. From 2005 until 2012 she was a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC). From 2013 until 2021 she was chancellor of the Order Pour le Mérite. In 2016 she received an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).
In 2004 Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard has founded the CNV-Foundation to support women in Science with children (


Interests: Music (Voice, Flute), History of Science, Gardening, Cooking. Since 2010 she chairs the curatorium of the International-Hugo-Wolf-Academy in Stuttgart, Germany.

J Kimble and C Nüsslein-Volhard, "The great small organisms of developmental genetics: Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster," Developmental Biology 485, 93-122 (2022).
C Nüsslein-Volhard, "The Toll gene in Drosophila pattern formation," Trends in Genetics 38 (3), 231-245 (2022).

Key Publications

An interview with Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Development 2017, PDF)

How fish color their skin: A paradigm for development and evolution of adult patterns (Bioessays 2017, PDF)

The Heidelberg Screen for Pattern Mutants of Drosophila: A Personal Account (Annu. Rev. Cell. Dev. Biol. 2016, PDF)

The zebrafish issue of Development (Development 2012, PDF)

Women in science - passion and prejudice (Curr. Biol. 2008, PDF)

The bicoid morphogen papers (I): account from CNV (Cell 2004, PDF)

The Origin of Pattern and Polarity in the Drosophila Embryo (Cell 1992, PDF)

The identification of genes controlling development in flies and fishes (Nobel Lecture 1995, PDF)

The bicoid Protein Determines Position in the Drosophila Embryo in a Concentration-Dependent Manner (Cell 1988, PDF)

Mutations affecting segment number and polarity in Drosophila (Nature 1980, PDF)

Scientific Articles

About 200 original papers, some popular articles in German newspapers (e.g. FAZ, Die Zeit) in German


Von Genen und Embryonen, Reclam: Stuttgart 2004.

Das Werden des Lebens: Wie Gene die Entwicklung steuern, C.H. Beck: München 2004.

Coming to life: how genes drive development, Kales Press: USA 2006.

Mein Kochbuch: Einfaches zu besonderen Anlässen. Mit Illustrationen von Susanne Baumgarten, Insel Verlag: Frankfurt/Main 2006.

Schönheit der Tiere: Evolution biologischer Ästhetik. Mit Illustrationen von Suse Grützmacher. Matthes und Seitz Verlag, Berlin 2017

Animal beauty. Evolution of biological aesthetics. Translated from german by Jonathan Howard. The MIT press, Boston 2019

Go to Editor View