Elisabeth Knust

DFG vice president, professor of developmental biology, MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Elisabeth Knust is director of the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. Professor Knust’s group works on the establishment and maintenance of epithelial cell polarity, using model systems ranging from Drosophila over zebrafish to cell culture. The group has identified a protein complex (Crumbs) which is involved in establishing cell polarity in ectodermal epithelia of Drosophila and which also prevents light-induced retinal degeneration.

Elisabeth Knust studied biology at the University of Düsseldorf, where she also received her doctorate in 1979, working on ribonucleoprotein particles from Drosophila spermatocytes. She performed her postdoctoral work at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg under Professor Bernhard Fleckenstein on the genome of the herpes virus saimiri, after which she moved to Cologne where she studied early neurogenesis in the Drosophila embryo. In 1988, she became an Assistant Professor at the University of Cologne, and started working on epithelial development. Having been an Associate Professor at the University of Cologne from 1990-1996, Elisabeth Knust then became Head of the Department of Genetics at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Since 2007, she is director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden and Honorary professor of Developmental Biology at the TU Dresden.

Elisabeth Knust was awarded numerous prestigious awards and grants, among them the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). She serves on several scientific advisory committees and is a Vice President of the DFG.

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