Biochemist Eli Tanaka is the new director of the prestigious Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Biochemist Eli Tanaka is the new director of the prestigious Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Eli Tanaka is of American descent Leading regeneration research expert specializing in sea urchinsIt is an amphibian native to Mexico, and its peculiarity lies in its ability to regenerate its organs, limbs, and spinal cord. Hence, this salamander is at the heart of many study projects in endocrinology, embryology, genetics, and neurobiology, such as those being conducted in Eli Tanaka's laboratory. The biochemist is interested in the molecules and cells that contribute to regeneration within the sea urchin, particularly the relationship between limb regeneration and the nervous system.

Eli Tanaka ©ÖAW

After studying biochemistry at the prestigious Harvard University and the University of California, San Francisco, and obtaining a doctorate from University College London, she joined the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, having been its director since 2008. In 2016, she decided to continue her research in Vienna at the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences so that she would have the opportunity to study newt species, at a high genetic level.

As the future new director of IMBA, Eli Tanaka stressed the desire to maintain the Institute's exceptional position in the field of basic research. The Institute is already well known for its pioneering advances in molecular biology in recent years, as demonstrated by the recent establishment of a Cluster of Excellence in Molecular Biology and Stem Cell and Organogenesis Research. The institute is part of Vienna's lively centrethe largest life sciences campus in Austria, brings together research in all areas of life sciences: from structural biology to cell biology, and from plant genetics to disease models.

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Sea urchin ©ÖAW

The researcher will officially take up his position on April 1He succeeded the interim Jürgen Knoblich, who was keen to highlight the importance of another woman assuming the presidency of a research institute in Austria, stressing that it is “an urgent necessity in our society, especially in Austria, where the vast majority of chairs are occupied by men.”

In addition, Eli Tanaka regularly received prestigious European funding (ERC grant and Marie Skłodowska-Curie), most recently an ERC grant advanced in 2023, as well as funding from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).


  • Schrödinger Prize from the Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Ernst Schering Prize
  • Member of the Max Planck Society, Germany
  • Bio-Future Research Award, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany

source :

Editor: Emeline Ogereau, emeline.ogereau[at] –

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