Nüsslein-Volhard, Christiane, 1942–, German biologist and geneticist, Ph.D. Univ. of Tübingen, 1973. Since 1985 she has been director of the genetics division of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. Nüsslein-Volhard was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Eric F. Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development. Using Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, as their experimental system, Nüsslein-Volhard and Wieschaus identified and classified a group of genes that are key to determining the development of the fruit fly embryo into a segmented body. Based on their discovery that genes controlling development could be systematically identified, Lewis went on to elucidate how individual segments develop into specific organs. Their work has provided new insights into evolution and laid the groundwork for understanding congenital defects in humans.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.