News Release 

Vilcek Foundation video celebrates developmental geneticist Ruth Lehmann

Ruth Lehmann is the recipient of the 2021 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science

Vilcek Foundation

Award Announcement


IMAGE: A photograph of Ruth Lehmann. Lehmann is the recipient of the 2021 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science. view more 

Credit: The Vilcek Foundation

NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2021--The Vilcek Foundation celebrates the research leadership of developmental geneticist Ruth Lehmann, recipient of the 2021 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science, with a new article and video. Lehmann received the award for her foundational contributions to the understanding of primordial germ cells and the germ cell life cycle, and for her institutional leadership in the field.

The salute to Lehmann's life and work includes a three-minute video with the prizewinner, filmed in October 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at the Whitehead Institute. The article and video highlight the experiences and insights that shaped her perspective as well as her passion for the work.

In the video Lehmann states, "I think I'm most proud that I created an environment that encourages people to look at science with the same joy and enthusiasm and fearlessness that I do." She says, "If we want to include everyone in the scientific process, we need to make sure that everyone can get mentored."

Lehmann discovered her passion for genetics and developmental biology while a Fulbright fellow at the University of Washington, where she studied with Gerold Schubiger. While attending a conference with Schubiger, she met Nobel Laureate Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, who would later serve as Lehmann's PhD advisor at the Max Planck Institute. Recognizing the challenges that Dr. Nüsslein-Volhard faced in the sciences as a result of gender discrimination, Lehmann resolved to be a mentor to other women and minorities in the sciences. At New York University (NYU), Lehmann developed a mentorship program specifically targeted at graduate and post-doctoral women scientists so as to foster greater equity, diversity, and empowerment for women in the field.

In 2020, Lehmann was appointed director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was previously the director of the Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine at NYU. Lehmann is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute alumna and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.


Read the full article and watch the video at the following link: Ruth Lehmann: "There's always another question... There's always more to find out."

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