Skip to main content
Charpentier, Cramer, Schuman ForMemRS 2024

Three VVPs among new Foreign Members of the Royal Society

Three Vallee Visiting Professors are among this year's newly elected Foreign Members to the Royal Society:

Emmannuelle Charpentier, PhD, Scientific and Managing Director, Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, is a French microbiologist, geneticist and biochemist. She received her scientific education at the University Pierre and Marie Curie and the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.

Charpentier is Founding, Scientific and Managing Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens and Honorary Professor at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. Prior to her current appointments, she held Professorship positions at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and Hannover Medical School, Germany, Umeå University, Sweden and University of Vienna, Austria. She also held research associate positions at The Rockefeller University, New York University Medical Center and Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis.

Charpentier has been widely recognized for her groundbreaking research that laid the foundation for the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology. She has received numerous prestigious international awards and honors including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020, and is an elected member of national and international scientific academies. She is co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics and ERS Genomics with Rodger Novak and Shaun Foy.

Patrick Cramer, PhD, President, Max Planck Society & Director, Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, is a chemist and structural molecular biologist. His research group studies the mechanisms of gene transcription and regulation in eukaryotic cells.

Cramer pioneered the structural analysis of eukaryotic RNA polymerases – large, multiprotein assemblies that use DNA as a template to synthesize complementary RNA chains. His team also developed experimental and computational methods for studying transcription and its regulation genome-wide, arriving at the fundamental mechanisms that cells use to express their genes. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cramer's team visualized the replication of the coronavirus genome and unraveled the mechanisms used by antiviral drugs to interfere with viral RNA polymerase function.

Patrick Cramer has received numerous awards, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the Ernst Jung Prize, the Louis Jeantet Prize and the Shaw Prize. He is a member of the Leopoldina, the US National Academy of Sciences and the European Molecular Biology Organization. 

Erin Schuman, PhD, Director, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, was born in 1963 in California. She did her Bachelors, PhD and postdoctoral studies at the University of Southern California, Princeton and Stanford Universities, respectively. In 1993, she joined Caltech's Biology Faculty and was appointed an HHMI investigator (1997-2009). In 2009, she moved to Frankfurt, Germany to found a new Max Planck Institute for Brain Research.  She is an elected member of EMBO, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the US National Academy of Sciences. She received the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the EMBO Women in Science Award, the Rosenstiel Award, and the Brain Prize.

Schuman has a long-standing interest molecular and cell biological processes that control protein synthesis and degradation in neurons and their synapses.  Following on the lab's initial discovery that proteins made locally in dendrites are required for synaptic plasticity, they identified the mRNA and ribosome population present in neuronal dendrites and axons. In addition, they have developed new tools to label, identify and visualize newly synthesized proteins using non-canonical amino acids and click chemistry (the BONCAT and FUNCAT techniques). The lab's current work focusses on the nature and specialization of mRNA translation and protein degradation machines and mechanisms in neurons.

Also elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society this year is Kyoko Nozaki, PhD, Professor of Chemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Tokyo, who was a Kuggie Vallee Distinguished Lecturer in 2019.