"Animal Beauty: Function and Evolution of Biological Aesthetics" by Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

OIST Presidential Lecture Series #2
"Animal Beauty: Function and Evolution of Biological Aesthetics" by Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
July 30, 2018

Where do we come from?  What is the point of beauty in nature?  How do we arise from a single cell?  These questions and more will be addressed by Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, a pioneer who together with Eric Wieschaus identified the genetic basis for the development of the fruit fly.  For this fundamental discovery she was awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995, jointly with Eric Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis.

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard helped decipher the logic of the genes required to control early embryonic development.  Based on her research, a plethora of transcription control genes was discovered and found to be conserved throughout evolution.  In her talk she will discuss the basic mechanisms needed to establish a distinct pattern of cells during embryogenesis.  She will also talk about the point of beauty in nature as well as why animals have patterns, a subject on which she has been writing a book.  Her research laid the conceptual foundation for our understanding of organ formation and regeneration using the developmental control genes.

From 1985 until 2014 Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard was a director at the Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

As Emerita, she is still leading a research group at the Institute focusing on pattern formation, growth and cell migration in the zebrafish, a new vertebrate model organism.

For the discovery of genes that control development in animals and humans, and the demonstration of morphogen gradients in the fly embryo, she received a number of awards and honours, among others the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (New York/USA) in 1991 and the 1995 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology.

She was secretary general of EMBO until 2009 and a member of many scientific councils (National Ethics Council of Germany, European Research Council). Since 2013 she is chancellor of the German Order Pour le mérite.

In order to support women with children in science she founded the Christiane-Nüsslein-Volhard-Stiftung in 2004.