Scientific Members of the Max Planck Society

The primary goal of the Max Planck Society is to promote research at its own institutes. It is not a government institution although it is funded to a large extent by the federal and state governments. Instead, it is a registered association and has its registered seat in Berlin. The Administrative Headquarters and office of the President are located in Munich. Members of the Max Planck Society include the Supporting Members, the Honorary Members, and the ex-officio Members. Other members include the appointed Scientific Members to the Society, who are usually institute directors.

Ruth Ley, PhDManaging Director, Department of Microbiome Science

Ruth Ley, PhD
Managing Director, Department of Microbiome Science

Ruth Ley is a biologist and received her PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. In July 2008, Ley joined the Department of Microbiology at Cornell University as an Assistant Professor, and in 2013 became an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. She joined the institute in 2016. Ley's awards include a Fellowship in Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the ISME Young Investigator Award, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, and the Otto Bayer Award. She is a member of EMBO, of the European Academy of Microbiology, and of the American Academy of Microbiology. In 2020 she was elected to the Leopoldina German National Academy of Sciences.
Susana CoelhoDirector, Department of Algal Development and Evolution

Susana Coelho
Director, Department of Algal Development and Evolution

As a marine biologist, Susana Coelho joined the institute in 2020. Born in Portugal, she completed her PhD at the Marine Biological Association in the laboratory of Colin Brownlee (Plymouth, United Kingdom). Since 2010, she led the Algae Genetics team at the Roscoff Biological Station together with Mark Cock and was appointed Research Director at the CNRS in Roscoff in 2015. Coelho has led several research projects on the evolution and development of brown algae, including two ERC grants (SEXSEA and TETHYS). She has been awarded the bronze medal of the CNRS (2015) and the Trogoboff Prize of the French National Academy of Sciences (2017).
Andrei LupasDirector, Department of Protein Evolution

Andrei Lupas
Director, Department of Protein Evolution

Molecular biologist Andrei Lupas is Director of the Department Protein Evolution. Born in Bucharest/Romania, he finished his studies at Princeton University with a PhD in 1991. In 1992 he joined the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich as a researcher. In 2001 he became Director at the former Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, now Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen.
Ralf J. SommerDirector, Department of Integrative Evolutionary Biology

Ralf J. Sommer
Director, Department of Integrative Evolutionary Biology

Ralf J. Sommer was born in Würselen, Germany, and finished his PhD in biology in 1992 at the Ludwigs Maximilian University in Munich. After a research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology in the 1990s, he started heading a junior research group at the former Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. Shortly after his habilitation in biology at the University of Tübingen, he became a Director and Scientific Member at the today´s Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen in 1999. Ralf J. Sommer is also a Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen since 2002.
Detlef WeigelDirector, Department of Molecular Biology

Detlef Weigel
Director, Department of Molecular Biology

Born 1961 in Prisser, Germany, Detlef Weigel obtained a PhD in biology from the University of Tübingen in 1988. He was a faculty member at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, USA, for almost 10 years before accepting in 2001 a position as Director and Scientific Member at today's Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen. Detlef has received numerous honors including the Leibniz Award of the DFG (2007), the Otto Bayer Award (2010), the GSA Medal of the Genetics Society of America (2016) and the Novozymes Prize (2020). He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

External Scientific Member of the Institute

Eric F. WieschausEm. Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University

Eric F. Wieschaus
Em. Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University

Born in South Bend, Indiana, Eric F. Wieschaus is an American developmental biologist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, with geneticists Edward B. Lewis and Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, for discovering the genetic controls of early embryonic development. Working together with Nüsslein-Volhard, Wieschaus expanded upon the innovative work of Lewis, who likewise based his studies on the fruit fly, or vinegar fly (Drosophila melanogaster), a popular species for genetic experiments. Wieschaus graduated from the University of Notre Dame (B.S., 1969) and Yale University (Ph.D., 1974) and pursued postdoctoral work at the University of Zürich in Switzerland. He began working with Nüsslein-Volhard at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (1978–81) in Heidelberg, W.Ger. In 1981 he joined the faculty of Princeton University as assistant professor, later becoming associate professor (1983) and full professor (1987).
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