Professor Matthias Hentze was born in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Germany. He attended Münster University Medical School, Germany, and also studied at Medical Schools in the United Kingdom (Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Southampton). After completing his medical qualification and an M.D. in Biochemistry (Münster), Matthias carried out postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland, USA), before joining EMBL Heidelberg as a Group Leader in 1989. He obtained the Habilitation from Heidelberg University in 1990 and became Professor for Molecular Medicine in 2005. Matthias served as the Dean of Graduate Studies from 1996 until being promoted to the position as EMBL Associate Director in July 2005. In 2013 he was appointed as EMBL Director.
As a research scientist, Matthias Hentze has made multiple landmark contributions to the understanding of posttranscriptional gene regulation, especially the control of protein synthesis. His work has also provided fundamental insights into the molecular mechanisms governing iron homeostasis and diseases of altered iron metabolism. Matthias co-founded the Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit (MMPU) between EMBL and the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University in 2002, which he co-directs and where he conducts translational research on common diseases of iron metabolism and of altered mRNA metabolism. Recent work by the Hentze group has uncovered hundreds of new RNA-binding proteins, including many metabolic enzymes. Supported by an ERC Advanced Grant, their current work focuses on the elucidation of connections between metabolism and gene regulation.
Matthias Hentze’s research contributions have been recognized in numerous ways including Germany’s prestigious Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize in 2000, the 2007 Lautenschläger Research Prize of Heidelberg University, and the 2015 Feodor Lynen Medal of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and an Honorary Faculty Member of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney (Australia). Matthias currently chairs the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin (Germany), of BioCity Turku (Finland), and of the VIB Ghent (Belgium). He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Centenary Institute in Sydney (Australia), of Cold Spring Harbor Conferences Asia (Suzhou, China), the Centro de Biologia Molecular “Severo Ochoa” (Madrid, Spain), the Istituto Nationale di Genetica Molecolare (Milano, Italy), the Berlin Institute of Health (Germany) and Queens University Belfast Medical School (U.K.). He presently serves on the Selection Committee for the Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), and on the Editorial Boards of Molecular Cell, EMBO Molecular Medicine, Trends in Biochemical Sciences, RNA, and the Journal of Molecular Medicine.
As EMBL Director, Matthias advises and works closely with EMBL’s Director General and supports him representing EMBL as an international scientific research, training and service organisation. While the Director General and the governing EMBL Council set the overall programme and directions of the Laboratory, the Director contributes to their implementation and generates additional opportunities for the Laboratory. He promotes aspects of EMBL’s public engagement and communication strategy, generating visibility and positive awareness of the Laboratory. The Director oversees the areas Resource Development and Alumni Relations.
The Director reserves priority time for the Laboratory’s major private funders. He seeks their advice and support and communicates the Laboratory’s vision, achievements and needs. The Director also works closely with the Board of EMBL’s Alumni Association to maximise mutually beneficial interactions between EMBL Alumni, EMBL staff and the Laboratory itself.