Elisa Izaurralde was born 1959 in Montevideo and educated at Geneva University. Before becoming Director of the Department of Biochemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen in 2005, she worked as postdoc and group leader at the University of Geneva and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg.
Her work focused on understanding basic mechanisms that control gene expression at the posttranscriptional level. Early in her career, she made fundamental discoveries how messenger RNA molecules are exported from the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm and provided crucial insights into processes leading to turnover and decay of messenger RNAs. During her tenure as Max Planck Director, her laboratory was at the forefront to explore the regulation of messenger RNA silencing by RNA-binding proteins and small RNAs. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Leibniz prize by the German Research Foundation for work on mRNA degradation, together with her longstanding friend and collaborator Elena Conti, Director of the Department of Structural Cell Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich. Since 2009, Elisa Izaurralde was an elected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
MDC Directors Martin Lohse and Heike Wolke join the head of the Supervisory Board, Ministry Director Bärbel Brumme-Bothe, in a statement of appreciation for Prof. Izaurralde's engagement. „We are thankful for her exceptional insight, advice and support that she has given to the MDC“, says MDC Scientific Director Martin Lohse. „The research community has lost a truly outstanding scientist and highly respected colleague.”