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Article

Elly Tanaka elected member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences


26 May 2021
Elly Tanaka

IMP Senior Scientist Elly Tanaka is one of 31 distinguished scientists that were elected to membership of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW). 

In its annual election, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) awarded its membership to exceptional researchers – 19 women and 12 men - from a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities, social and cultural studies, mathematics, and the sciences and engineering. Membership is given in recognition of outstanding scientific achievements. Six of the elected researchers are now full members, 16 corresponding members, seven joined the Young Academy chapter of the ÖAW.

“I am indeed very honored to be elected to the Academy”, said Elly Tanaka in a first reaction. “With two Academy institutes [IMBA and GMI] embedded in the Vienna BioCenter, I am very familiar with the instrumental role the Academy plays in supporting and guiding research activities in Austria and at the international level. I am very pleased to have the chance to contribute to this organisation for the benefit of Austrian science.”

Elly Tanaka and her work on regeneration

Elly Tanaka joined the IMP as a Senior Scientist in 2016. Her lab studies the molecular pathways in control of regeneration in vertebrates, especially of limbs and the spinal cord. The axolotl – famed for its regeneration capacities – is the Tanaka lab’s main model organism, but the lab also works with systems such as frogs, mice, and human tissue culture.

Elly Tanaka studied biochemistry at Harvard University and received her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. She started working on limb regeneration as a postdoctoral fellow with Jeremy Brockes at University College London. She then became a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden in 1999.  In 2008, she became a professor at the Center for Regenerative Therapies at the Technical University Dresden, of which she was Director from 2014 to 2016.

The Austrian Academy of Sciences awarded Elly Tanaka its Schrödinger Prize in 2018 (jointly with Peter Jonas of IST Austria). She is an elected member of the Academia Europaea and of the European Molecular Biology Organization EMBO. Her achievements have also been honoured by numerous other honours, including the FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award, the Agnes Ogden Prize, BioFuture Prize, GSCN Female Scientist Prize, and Ernst Schering Prize. Among many other endowments, her work was twice funded by an ERC Advanced Grant.

Two honorary ÖAW members

Two of the newly elected ÖAW members were given honorary memberships: Christoph Huber is a Vienna-born cancer researcher who, in 2008, co-founded the German biotechnology company Biontech, which has developed a highly effective vaccine against COVID-19. The other honorary member is Harvard engineer and geophysicist James R. Rice, who has made seminal contributions to various aspects of solid mechanics with broad implications from material science to the study of Earthquakes.
 

Further Reading

Elly Tanaka's lab
Tanaka Lab external website