MIT professor gives Carl Zeiss Lecture
Professor Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch is the winner of the Carl Zeiss Lecture award. Jaenisch is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (Cambridge, USA).
Today Dr. Richard Ankerhold (Carl Zeiss) is presenting to him the highest scientific commendation granted by the German Association for Cell Biology (DGZ). The award donated by the Carl Zeiss Microscopy Group has been conferred annually in recognition of outstanding achievements since 1990. It is linked to a scientific guest lecture which is given by the winner during the annual meeting of the DGZ taking place in the southern German city of Constance from 24 – 27 March.
Jaenisch is increasingly devoting his attention to therapeutic cloning in animal models and to stem cell research. In 2002 he was the first geneticist to prove that a genetic defect in mice can be cured by therapeutic cloning.
His contributions to epigenetics deserve special recognition. This special field of biology is focused on changes in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. Although Jaenisch played a key role in the development of technologies for mammal cloning, he has spoken out publicly against the cloning of human beings. According to Jaenisch, major obstacles attributable to epigenetic programming are repeatedly experienced in animal experiments of this type.
Since 1984, he has been examining such growth processes in embryos in which, depending on the time and location, different genes become active or inactive in order to ensure that the development process can take place in the proper manner. Jaenisch hopes not only to receive answers to fundamental questions concerning embryonic development, but also to gain greater insight into the causes of cancer and other diseases.