Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker

Winnacker in 2005

Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker (born 26 July 1941 in Frankfurt) is a German geneticist, biochemist and research manager. His main fields of research are virus/cell interaction, the mechanisms of gene expression in higher cells and prion diseases. He was President of the German Research Foundation and Secretary General of the European Research Council and is Secretary General of the Human Frontier Science Program Organization.

Life and work

Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker is the son of the German chemist and former CEO of the Hoechst AG Karl Winnacker.

He studied chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1968. Winnacker took part in an effort to chemically synthesize the Vitamin B12. From 1968 to 1972 he took a postdoctoral research position at the University of California, Berkeley, to work with Horace Barker, who discovered the active form of vitamin B12. Winnacker set out to isolate enzymes involved in B12 synthesis. While at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden he became intrigued by the use of recombinant DNA and associated techniques to synthesize and manipulate DNA. In 1972 he became assistant and then DFG Visiting professor at the Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne. In 1977 he was appointed associate professor at the Institute of Biochemistry at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich where he was made full professor in 1980. From 1984 to 1997, he was Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Munich Gene Center.

In 1998 he was elected President of the German Research Foundation (DFG), a position he held until the end of 2006. From 2003 to 2004 he was Chairman of the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs) which introduced the EURYI Award and, from 2000 to 2004, Member of the European Group on Life Science (established by European Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin). From 2007 to 2009 he served as the first Secretary General of the European Research Council (ERC). In 2009 he became as successor of the nobel prize winner Torsten Wiesel Secretary General of the Human Frontier Science Program Organization.

Honours and distinctions

Positions in scientific societies and boards


  • Winnacker, Ernst L. (1987), From genes to clones : introduction to gene technology [Gene und Klone] (in German), Horst Ibelgaufts (trans.), Weinheim, New York: VCH, ISBN 0-89573-614-4
  • M Famulok; Ernst L Winnacker; Chi-Huey Wong (1999). Combinatorial chemistry in biology. Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology, 243. Berlin: Springer. p. 189. ISBN 3-540-65704-5.
  • Gesellschaft für Biologische Chemie. Colloquium (39th : 1988 : Mosbach, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany) (1988). E.-L. Winnacker and R. Huber (ed.). Protein structure and protein engineering. Berlin, New York: Springer. p. 131. ISBN 3-540-50394-3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Workshop Conference Hoechst (9th : 1980 : Ising, Germany); Winnacker, Ernst L.; Schoene, Hans-H. (1982). Genes and tumor gene. New York: Raven Press. ISBN 978-0-89004-678-4.

External links

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