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Rudolf Jaenisch

Rudolf Jaenisch
Rudolf Jaenisch, 2003
Born (1942-04-22) 22 April 1942
Wölfelsgrund, Germany
Residence Germany, USA
Citizenship German
Fields Biochemistry
Institutions Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry (Munich)
Princeton University
Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia)
Salk Institute (La Jolla, CA)
Heinrich Pette Institute of the University of Hamburg
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (Cambridge, MA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater University of Munich (M.D., 1967)
Academic advisors Arnold Levine
Known for Epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation
Therapeutic cloning
Embryonic stem cell research
Notable awards Boehringer Mannheim Molecular Bioanalytics Prize (1996)
Gruber Prize in Genetics (2001)
Robert Koch Prize (2002)
Max Delbrück Medal (2006)
Massry Prize from the Keck School of Medicine (2008)
Wolf Prize in Medicine (2011)
National Medal of Science (2011)

Rudolf Jaenisch (born 22 April 1942) is a Professor of Biology at MIT and a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He is a pioneer of transgenic science, in which an animal’s genetic makeup is altered. Jaenisch has focused on creating genetically modified mice to study cancer and neurological diseases.[1]


  • Research 1
  • Career 2
  • Awards and Honors 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Jaenisch’s first breakthrough occurred in 1974 when he and Beatrice Mintz showed that foreign DNA could be integrated into the DNA of early mouse embryos.[2] They injected retrovirus DNA into early mouse embryos and showed that leukemia DNA sequences had integrated into the mouse genome and also to its offspring. These mice were the first transgenic mammals in history.[3]

His current research focuses on the epigenetic regulation of gene expression, which has led to major advances in creating embryonic stem cells and “induced pluripotent stem" (IPS) cells, as well as their therapeutic applications. In 2007, Jaenisch’s laboratory was one the first three laboratories world-wide to report reprogramming cells taken from a mouse's tail into IPS cells. Jaenisch has since shown therapeutic benefits of IPS cell-based treatment for sickle-cell anemia and Parkinson's disease in mice. Additional research focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms involved in cancer and brain development.[1]

Jaenisch’s therapeutic cloning research deals exclusively with mice, but he is an advocate for using the same techniques with human cells in order to advance embryonic stem cell research. However, in 2001 Jaenisch made a public case against human reproductive cloning, testifying to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee[4] and an editorial in Science magazine.[5]


Jaenisch received his doctorate in medicine from the University of Munich in 1967, preferring the laboratory to the clinic. He became a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, studying bacteriophages. He left Germany in 1970 for research positions at Princeton University, Fox Chase Institute for Cancer Research and the Salk Institute. He returned to Germany in 1977 to become the head of the Department of Tumor Virology at the Heinrich Pette Institute at the University of Hamburg. He arrived at MIT in 1984.[6] He participated in the 2005 science conference on human cloning at the United Nations and serves on the science advisory boards of the Genetics Policy Institute[7] and Stemgent.[8]

Awards and Honors

Jaenisch's awards and honors include election as a member of U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2003,[9] the 2010 National Medal of Science,[10] the 2011 Wolf Prize in Medicine,[11] and the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science from the Franklin Institute.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Rudolf Jaenisch". Whitehead Institute. Retrieved 17 September 2014. [1]
  2. ^ Jaenisch R, Mintz B (1974). "Simian virus 50 DNA sequences in DNA of healthy adult mice derived from preimplantation blastocysts injected with viral DNA". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 71 (4): 1250–1254.  
  3. ^ "Biography of Rudolf Jaenisch". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2004. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Kumar, Seema (4 April 2001). "Jaenisch makes public case against human cloning". MIT News Office. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Jaenisch, Rudolf; Wilmut, Ian (30 March 2001). "Don't Clone Humans!". Science.  
  6. ^ Fearer, Matt (27 September 2011). "Whitehead member, biology professor Rudolf Jaenisch wins National Medal of Science". MIT News Office. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "Advisory Board". Genetics Policy Institute. Genetics Policy Institute. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Rudolf Jaenisch, M.D.". Stemgent. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "NAS Membership Directory". U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  10. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "Rudolf Jaenisch Winner of Wolf Prize in Medicine - 2011". Wolf Foundation. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  12. ^ "Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science".  

External links

  • Rudolf Jaenisch at the White Institute for Biomedical Research
  • PNASBiography of Rudolf Jaenisch,
  • MIT Department of Biology Homepage
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