Herbert Jäckle becomes member of prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 30, 2021

With Jäckle’s election, the Academy recognizes the outstanding scientific achievements of the emeritus director at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. His basic research using the fruit fly model brought new insights on the general understanding of genes and molecular mechanisms that control organ formation and energy metabolism.

Prof. Dr. Herbert Jäckle

”Of course, as a European, I am delighted – and honored – to be part of the illustrious circle of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” Jäckle says.

The research of the developmental biologist has provided groundbreaking insights into the early development of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In particular, Jäckle’s work contributed to a detailed understanding of how this development is regulated at the molecular level and how the fly keeps its energy metabolism in balance. 

Together with colleagues, the Max Planck researcher was able to identify important genes and molecular mechanisms that also control organ formation and energy metabolism in humans. These findings provide new approaches for developing therapies for obesity and diabetes, for example, when organ structures and functions are defective. In 1997, Jäckle co-founded the biotech company DeveloGen AG (now Evotec AG) with cell biologist Peter Gruss. Until today, parts of the company’s work focusses on transferring the two researchers’ findings from theory to practice.

In addition to his accomplishments as a scientist, Jäckle was Vice President of the Max Planck Society (MPG) from 2002 to 2014. In this role, he initiated, among other things, the Institute of Computational Biology in Shanghai (China), which the MPG jointly supports with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as a biomedical partner institute of the MPG and the Argentine Ministry of Science in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Last but not least, Jäckle has established a very successful program to promote talented young scientists within the MPG.

Out of over 1300 nominees, 252 new members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year. After Jürgen Troe (1989) and Erwin Neher (1992), Herbert Jäckle is the third scientist at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry to be honored by the academy. Other members of the academy are or were Benjamin Franklin (1781), Charles Darwin (1874), Albert Einstein (1924), Martin Luther King Jr. (1966), Pablo Picasso (1994) and Michelle Obama (2019). (kr)

About the honoree

Herbert Jäckle received his doctorate in biology from the University of Freiburg in 1977. He subsequently conducted research at the University of Texas in Austin (USA), at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, and at the MPI for Developmental Biology in Tübingen. In 1987, he became a full professor of genetics at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. In 1991, he moved to Göttingen to the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, where he was director of the Department of Molecular Developmental Biology until his retirement in 2017. Since then, he has remained active at the institute as Emeritus Director. He has also been an honorary professor at the University of Göttingen since 1993.

Herbert Jäckle has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize (1986), the Otto Bayer Prize (1992), the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine (1999), the German Future Prize (1999), and the Klaus Sander Prize (2019). In 2010, he was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Argentine state honored him with the Luis Federico Leloir Prize in 2014. He also holds honorary doctorates from the University of Konstanz, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot (Israel), and the University of Basel (Switzerland).

About the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an international honor society whose members are recognized for their outstanding achievements in science, arts, business, politics, and the public affairs. Its current membership of more than 5,600 includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. As an independent research institute, the academy supports countless projects in various fields of science, awards research grants and prizes, and advises government and the public on scientific concerns. 

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