Rudolf Jaenisch
Jaenisch in 2003.
Born (1942-04-22) April 22, 1942 (age 81)
Wölfelsgrund, Germany (now Międzygórze, Poland)
Alma materUniversity of Munich (M.D., 1967)
Known for
Scientific career
Academic advisorsArnold Levine

Rudolf Jaenisch (born on April 22, 1942) is a Professor of Biology at MIT and a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.[1] 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, epigenetic reprogramming and neurological diseases.[2][3][4]


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[5] They injected retrovirus DNA into early mouse embryos and showed that leukemia DNA sequences had integrated into the mouse genome and also into that of its offspring. These mice were the first transgenic mammals in history.[6]

His current research focuses on the epigenetic regulation of gene expression,[7] 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 of the first three laboratories worldwide 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.[3]

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.[8] However, in 2001, Jaenisch made a public case against human reproductive cloning, testifying before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee[9] and writing an editorial in Science magazine.[10]


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.[11] 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.[12] 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[13] and Stemgent.[14] He also served on the Life Sciences jury for the Infosys Prize in 2010.

Awards and honors


  1. ^ "Founders". Archived from the original on October 25, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  2. ^ Li, E.; Bestor, T. H.; Jaenisch, R. (1992). "Targeted mutation of the DNA methyltransferase gene results in embryonic lethality". Cell. 69 (6): 915–926. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(92)90611-F. PMID 1606615. S2CID 19879601.
  3. ^ a b "Rudolf Jaenisch". Whitehead Institute. Retrieved September 17, 2014.[1]
  4. ^ Rudolf Jaenisch's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  5. ^ 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. Bibcode:1974PNAS...71.1250J. doi:10.1073/pnas.71.4.1250. PMC 388203. PMID 4364530.
  6. ^ Brownlee, C. (2004). "Inaugural Article: Biography of Rudolf Jaenisch". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101 (39): 13982–13984. Bibcode:2004PNAS..10113982B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0406416101. PMC 521108. PMID 15383657.
  7. ^ Jaenisch, R.; Bird, A. (2003). "Epigenetic regulation of gene expression: how the genome integrates intrinsic and environmental signals". Nature Genetics. 33 Suppl (3s): 245–254. doi:10.1038/ng1089. PMID 12610534. S2CID 17270515.
  8. ^ Levine, Aaron (2007). Cloning : a beginner's guide. Oxford: Oneworld. pp. 110–111, 162. ISBN 9781851685226. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  9. ^ Kumar, Seema (April 4, 2001). "Jaenisch makes public case against human cloning". MIT News Office. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  10. ^ Jaenisch, R.; Wilmut, I (2001). "DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY: Don't Clone Humans!". Science. 291 (5513): 2552. doi:10.1126/science.1060463. PMID 11286275. S2CID 83375514.
  11. ^ "Rudolf Jaenisch Featured Science Watch Newsletter Interview". ScienceWatch. March. 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  12. ^ Fearer, Matt (September 27, 2011). "Whitehead member, biology professor Rudolf Jaenisch wins National Medal of Science". MIT News Office. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  13. ^ "Advisory Board". Genetics Policy Institute. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  14. ^ "Rudolf Jaenisch, M.D." Stemgent. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  15. ^ "2001 Gruber Genetics Prize Press Release Rudolf Jaenisch, Gene Transfer Pioneer, Receives First-Ever International Genetics Prize". Gruber Foundation. 2001. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "NAS Membership Directory". U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  17. ^ Bachtler, Barbara (December 1, 2006). "Professor Rudolf Jaenisch Receives Max Delbrück Medal". MDC News. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  18. ^ "The Vilcek Foundation -". Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  19. ^ "Ernst Schering Prize". Ernst Schering Foundation. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  20. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science". National Science Foundation. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  21. ^ "Rudolf Jaenisch Winner of Wolf Prize in Medicine - 2011". Wolf Foundation. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  22. ^ "ISSCR Award for Innovation". Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  23. ^ Ferrone, Frank A. (2015). "2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science presented to Rudolf Jaenisch". Journal of the Franklin Institute. 352 (7): 2587–2590. doi:10.1016/j.jfranklin.2015.03.004.
  24. ^ "Otto-Warburg-Medal". GBM. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  25. ^ "Whitehead's Rudolf Jaenisch honored with March of Dimes Prize". Whitehead Institute. April 27, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  26. ^ Chawla, Dalmeet Singh (October 17, 2017). "Who's the most influential biomedical scientist? Computer program guided by artificial intelligence says it knows". Science | AAAS. Retrieved September 22, 2020.