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Portrait of Ruth Lehman

Ruth Lehmann

Director, Whitehead Institute

Ph.D., University of Tübingen, Germany


Ruth Lehmann was elected as a Foreign Associate to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 for her pioneering contributions in the field of developmental biology. She is widely known for her work on germ cells, which give rise to egg and sperm during the early development of the embryo. By studying aberrant development of mutant germ cell lines in the fruit fly, her research has laid the foundation for understanding the potential causes of testicular germ line cancers and sterility.

Using genetics and live-imaging, Lehmann identified several mechanisms that regulate germ cell specification, migration and survival in the embryo, and germ line stem cell maintenance in the adult. In recent studies, her lab demonstrated the role of lipid signaling in germ cell migration and identified the genetic basis of transcriptional silencing in primordial germ cells and the mechanisms that control homeostasis of germ cell proliferation.

Lehmann, who joined the Stowers Scientific Advisory Board in 2011, received her Ph.D. from the University of Tübingen, Germany. After postdoctoral training in Tübingen and at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, UK, she joined the Whitehead Institute and the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before she moved to NYU School of Medicine's Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine in 1996. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, the director of the Skirball Institute and the Kimmel Center for Stem Cell Biology and the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Cell Biology.

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