Honorary Professorship of Freie Universität Berlin for Alexander Meissner

January 27, 2020
Alexander Meissner, Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) in Berlin, received an Honorary Professorship of Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. Previously, Meissner was Professor at Harvard University.

Max-Planck scientist Alexander Meissner was appointed Honorary Professor at the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy by the President of the FU Berlin on Jan 9th, 2020. With this, Meissner became corporate member of the FU Berlin, is entrusted with a duty of teaching at least one hour per week per semester and has the right to take exams. Meissner will give his first lectures in the context of a lecture series in the master's program of the biochemistry curriculum. He continues to work full-time as director at the MPIMG.

Research of Alexander Meissner

Meissner is interested in epigenetic regulation, which describes a set of mechanisms that control the transcription of genes without changing the sequence of nucleobases of the DNA. Together with his team of experimental and computational biologists, he studies the parameters that cause multipotent stem cells to develop into highly specialized cells making up all tissues of an organism. Meissner and his team published more than 150 articles detailing fundamental mechanisms of epigenetic regulation during disease and early embryonic development.

In his scientific work, Meissner applies modern methods of genome research to developmental and stem cell biology. For example, he mapped the epigenome of different cell lineages and different species in extraordinary detail. Furthermore, Meissner linked data from epigenomics and gene expression experiments, thereby characterizing the dynamic interplay of the processes. In his latest works, he used the CRISPR/Cas system to track the identity of cells during differentiation.


Alexander Meissner was born in Berlin, Germany, where he also grew up. He studied Medical Biotechnology at Technische Universität Berlin and started and completed his PhD studies with Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute / Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA.  After a year and a half working as postdoctoral fellow with Rudolf Jaenisch and Eric Lander, he moved to the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and to the Broad Institute in 2008 to start his independent carrier. He was promoted to associate professor in 2012 and to full professor with tenure in 2015. In 2016, Meissner accepted a position as Director and Head of the Department of Genome Regulation at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics. He took over as Managing Director of the Institute in 2019.

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