Ruth Lehmann

Ruth Lehmann

Professor of Biology; Director, Whitehead Institute

Ruth Lehmann studies the biological origins of germ cells, and how they transmit the potential to build a completely new organism to their offspring.





Nancy Rodriguez



Assistant Phone


  • Dr. rer. nat., 1985, University of Tübingen
  • MS, 1981, Biology, University of Freiburg

Research Summary

We study germ cells, the only cells in the body naturally able to generate completely new organisms. In addition to the nuclear genome, cytoplasmic information is passed though the egg cell to the next generation. We analyze the organization and regulation of germ line specific RNA-protein condensates, and explore mechanisms used by endosymbionts such as mitochondria and the intracellular bacterium, Wolbachia, to propagate through the cytoplasm of the female germ line.


  • Keith R. Porter Award, American Society for Cell Biology, 2018
  • Inaugural Klaus Sander Prize, German Society for Developmental Biology, 2017
  • European Molecular Biology Organization, Foreign Associate, 2012
  • Conklin Medal of the Society of Developmental Biology, 2011
  • National Academy of Sciences, Foreign Associate, 2005; Member, 2008
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member, 1998
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Investigator, 1990 and 1997

Key Publications

Recent Publications

  1. Sequence-Independent Self-Assembly of Germ Granule mRNAs into Homotypic Clusters. Trcek, T, Douglas, TE, Grosch, M, Yin, Y, Eagle, WVI, Gavis, ER, Shroff, H, Rothenberg, E, Lehmann, R. 2020. Mol. Cell 78, 941-950.e12.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.05.008PMID:32464092
  2. A single-cell atlas of the developing Drosophila ovary identifies follicle stem cell progenitors. Slaidina, M, Banisch, TU, Gupta, S, Lehmann, R. 2020. Genes Dev. 34, 239-249.
    doi: 10.1101/gad.330464.119PMID:31919193
  3. Germ granules in Drosophila. Trcek, T, Lehmann, R. 2019. Traffic 20, 650-660.
    doi: 10.1111/tra.12674PMID:31218815
  4. Preface. Lehmann, R. 2019. Curr. Top. Dev. Biol. 135, xi-xiv.
    doi: 10.1016/S0070-2153(19)30066-3PMID:31155365
  5. Mitochondrial fragmentation drives selective removal of deleterious mtDNA in the germline. Lieber, T, Jeedigunta, SP, Palozzi, JM, Lehmann, R, Hurd, TR. 2019. Nature 570, 380-384.
    doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1213-4PMID:31092924
  6. Human organoids: a new dimension in cell biology. Lehmann, R, Lee, CM, Shugart, EC, Benedetti, M, Charo, RA, Gartner, Z, Hogan, B, Knoblich, J, Nelson, CM, Wilson, KM et al.. 2019. Mol. Biol. Cell 30, 1129-1137.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E19-03-0135PMID:31034354
  7. Whole genome screen reveals a novel relationship between Wolbachia levels and Drosophila host translation. Grobler, Y, Yun, CY, Kahler, DJ, Bergman, CM, Lee, H, Oliver, B, Lehmann, R. 2018. PLoS Pathog. 14, e1007445.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007445PMID:30422992
  8. Phase transitioned nuclear Oskar promotes cell division of Drosophila primordial germ cells. Kistler, KE, Trcek, T, Hurd, TR, Chen, R, Liang, FX, Sall, J, Kato, M, Lehmann, R. 2018. Elife 7, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.37949PMID:30260314
  9. Meeting report: mobile genetic elements and genome plasticity 2018. Abrams, JM, Arkhipova, IR, Belfort, M, Boeke, JD, Joan Curcio, M, Faulkner, GJ, Goodier, JL, Lehmann, R, Levin, HL. 2018. Mob DNA 9, 21.
    doi: 10.1186/s13100-018-0126-3PMID:30211913
  10. Matchmaking molecule for egg and sperm. Lehmann, R. 2018. Science 361, 974-975.
    doi: 10.1126/science.aau8356PMID:30190390
More Publications



Photo credit: Courtesy of Ruth Lehmann