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Maria Leptin elected as Foreign Member of the Royal Society

President of the European Research Council is among the exceptional scientists elected as Fellows and Foreign Members in the oldest academic association in existence in honour of her contributions to and leadership in European science.

The biologist and immunologist Professor Dr Maria Leptin is among more than 60 scientists from around the world who have been elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the British Royal Society. Leptin currently serves as President of the European Research Council. She is also head of a research group at the University of Cologne’s Institute of Genetics. She was selected as a Foreign Member by the Royal Society because her leadership in European science builds on her research contributions across fields from immunity to genetics.

The 51 Fellows and 10 Foreign Members along with one Honorary Fellow have been selected for their outstanding contributions to science. Their work spans multiple disciplines, from using AI to better detect strokes to developing new technologies for improved energy storage and expanding our understanding of genetic cancer risk factors in non-European populations. As well as excellence in research, many of this year’s intake have made outstanding contributions in industry, policy and higher education.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: ‘It is an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe. I am also pleased to see so many new Fellows working in areas likely to have a transformative impact on our society over this century, from new materials and energy technologies to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. I look forward to seeing what great things they will achieve in the years ahead.’

This year’s Fellows and Foreign Members join the ranks of Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Dorothy Hodgkin.

After earning her degree in mathematics and biology at the Universities of Bonn and Heidelberg, Leptin went to the Basel Institute for Immunology in Switzerland, where she conducted her doctoral work from 1979 to 1983. From 1984 to 1989, she was a postdoc at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. Between 1989 and 1994, she served as a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen. In 1994, Leptin became a professor at the University of Cologne’s Institute of Genetics, where she still heads a research group. She spent sabbaticals as a visiting professor at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (2001) and as guest researcher at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (2004–2005). In 2010, she was appointed Director of EMBO, a Heidelberg-based organisation that supports the life sciences throughout Europe. Leptin is also an elected member of EMBO, the Academia Europaea and the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of the world's most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. 23.5 per cent of this year’s intake of Fellows and Foreign Members are women. New Fellows have been elected from across the UK including, Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, London, Loughborough, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton and Strathclyde and from around the world including Australia, Germany, South Africa and the USA.

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Eva Schissler
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Verantwortlich: Dr. Elisabeth Hoffmann –