FEBS EMBO Women in Science Award artistic poster image

11 February 2024 – EMBO and FEBS are delighted to announce that Anne Ephrussi, emerita of EMBL Heidelberg, Germany, is the recipient of this year’s FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award. It celebrates outstanding female life scientists, recognizing their research achievements and contribution to a particular discipline over the past five years in Europe. The awardees are inspiring role models who help pave the way for future generations of women in science.

“It is a huge honour and most humbling to receive the FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award. This recognition is truly due to the numerous bright scientists—lab members and colleagues—with whom I have had the great fortune to work, each with their own ideas and skills, their generous and open minds,” Ephrussi says. “I’m profoundly grateful for having had the privilege of carrying out publicly funded fundamental research and contributing to training generations of young scientists at EMBL. It has also been tremendously stimulating and enjoyable taking part in numerous activities of EMBO over the years.”

Ephrussi receives the award for elucidating mechanisms of mRNA transport from the site of transcription to specific locations within polarized cells and the regulation of translation. She spent most of her career working on a single Drosophila gene called oskar. Her recent research revealed that the transition of oskar ribonucleoprotein granules from the liquid to the solid phase is crucial for their role in embryonic development. She also showed that the transport of oskar mRNA to its correct location at the pole is achieved by switching from dynein- to kinesin-mediated transport along microtubules.

EMBO Director Fiona Watt says: “I would like to congratulate Anne on this well-deserved award. Her commitment to high-quality research and training is inspirational.”

In addition to her research, Ephrussi is honoured for excelling in mentoring young scientists as well as overseeing scientific training, conferences, education and public engagement. She demonstrated her commitment to training life scientists at all stages of their careers through her leadership of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training from 2005 to 2023. Ephrussi is highly respected in the international community of RNA biologists and supported it by serving on several committees and advisory boards. She has been an EMBO Member since 1995 and was a member of EMBO Council.

“Anne has been a role model not only for scientific performance but also for her commitment to institutional business and education. In all these aspects, she has been a leader while at the same time remaining a humble person with great and genuine human qualities,” says EMBO Member Denis Duboule, a professor at Collège de France, Paris, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.

The FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award 2024, consisting of 10,000 euros and a bronze statuette, will be presented to Ephrussi at the 48th FEBS Congress in Milan, Italy, where she will give a plenary lecture on 3 July 2024.


Anne Ephrussi is a French-American molecular, cellular and developmental biologist. She is emerita of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, as a former director, senior scientist and group leader.

Ephrussi’s academic journey started with an AB degree from Harvard University, US (1979). She received her PhD degree (1985) for research on the interaction of cellular factors with the mouse immunoglobulin heavy chain enhancer, which she conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, under the supervision of Susumu Tonegawa. She carried out postdoctoral research at Harvard University with Thomas Maniatis (1986–1989) and then joined the group of Ruth Lehmann at the Whitehead Institute, US, and MIT to study the maternal control of embryonic patterning (1989–1992). After cloning the Drosophila gene oskar and discovering that the transcript is localized to the posterior of the embryo, she demonstrated that oskar is positioned at the top of a hierarchy of genes responsible for germline formation. Since Ephrussi moved to EMBL in 1992 to set up her own research group, she has provided insights into the structure and function of the Oskar protein, the establishment of cell polarity and the assembly of transport-competent RNA–protein complexes. She was head of the EMBL Developmental Biology Unit (2007–2021).

Throughout her career, Ephrussi has been committed to training of scientists. As director of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training (2005–2023) she oversaw the PhD and postdoctoral fellow programmes, courses and conferences, as well as science education and public engagement activities. She also was dean of graduate studies of the EMBL International PhD Programme (1999–2008).

Ephrussi received the Feldberg Prize (2022) and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Developmental Biology (2023). She is an elected member of EMBO, the French Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europaea and the US National Academy of Sciences. She served on numerous committees and advisory boards, and was a member of EMBO Council and the French Haut Conseil de la Science et de la Technologie.

About the FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award

The Women in Science Award is a joint initiative of FEBS and EMBO. It recognizes and highlights major contributions by female scientists working in Europe to life sciences research in the past five years. The awardee receives a prize of 10,000 euros as well as a bronze statuette and gives a plenary lecture at the FEBS Congress.

Nominations for the FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award 2025 close on 15 May 2024.

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This text is reproduced from the EMBO website at www.embo.org/press-releases/anne-ephrussi-wins-the-febs-embo-women-in-science-award-2024/
Photo credit: EMBL Photolab