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.





Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Lisa Bolduc



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.


  • Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science, 2022
  • Gruber Genetics Prize, 2022
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal, Genetics Society of America, 2021
  • Francis Amory Prize in Reproductive Medicine and Reproductive Physiology, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020
  • Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science, 2020
  • 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

  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. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. piRNA-mediated regulation of transposon alternative splicing in the soma and germ line. Teixeira, FK, Okuniewska, M, Malone, CD, Coux, RX, Rio, DC, Lehmann, R. 2017. Nature 552, 268-272.
    doi: 10.1038/nature25018PMID:29211718
  6. GCL and CUL3 Control the Switch between Cell Lineages by Mediating Localized Degradation of an RTK. Pae, J, Cinalli, RM, Marzio, A, Pagano, M, Lehmann, R. 2017. Dev Cell 42, 130-142.e7.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.06.022PMID:28743001
  7. Long Oskar Controls Mitochondrial Inheritance in Drosophila melanogaster. Hurd, TR, Herrmann, B, Sauerwald, J, Sanny, J, Grosch, M, Lehmann, R. 2016. Dev Cell 39, 560-571.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2016.11.004PMID:27923120

Recent Publications

  1. Juvenile hormones direct primordial germ cell migration to the embryonic gonad. Barton, LJ, Sanny, J, Packard Dawson, E, Nouzova, M, Noriega, FG, Stadtfeld, M, Lehmann, R. 2024. Curr Biol 34, 505-518.e6.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.12.033PMID:38215744
  2. HP6/Umbrea is dispensable for viability and fertility, suggesting essentiality of newly evolved genes is rare. Grill, S, Riley, A, Selvaraj, M, Lehmann, R. 2023. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 120, e2309478120.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.2309478120PMID:37725638
  3. An AMPK phosphoregulated RhoGEF feedback loop tunes cortical flow-driven amoeboid migration in vivo. Lin, B, Luo, J, Lehmann, R. 2022. Sci Adv 8, eabo0323.
    doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abo0323PMID:36103538
  4. Fly Cell Atlas: A single-nucleus transcriptomic atlas of the adult fruit fly. Li, H, Janssens, J, De Waegeneer, M, Kolluru, SS, Davie, K, Gardeux, V, Saelens, W, David, FPA, Brbić, M, Spanier, K et al.. 2022. Science 375, eabk2432.
    doi: 10.1126/science.abk2432PMID:35239393
  5. Model organism databases are in jeopardy. Bellen, HJ, Hubbard, EJA, Lehmann, R, Madhani, HD, Solnica-Krezel, L, Southard-Smith, EM. 2021. Development 148, .
    doi: 10.1242/dev.200193PMID:35231122
  6. A single-cell atlas reveals unanticipated cell type complexity in Drosophila ovaries. Slaidina, M, Gupta, S, Banisch, TU, Lehmann, R. 2021. Genome Res 31, 1938-1951.
    doi: 10.1101/gr.274340.120PMID:34389661
  7. Large Drosophila germline piRNA clusters are evolutionarily labile and dispensable for transposon regulation. Gebert, D, Neubert, LK, Lloyd, C, Gui, J, Lehmann, R, Teixeira, FK. 2021. Mol Cell 81, 3965-3978.e5.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.07.011PMID:34352205
  8. A transitory signaling center controls timing of primordial germ cell differentiation. Banisch, TU, Slaidina, M, Gupta, S, Ho, M, Gilboa, L, Lehmann, R. 2021. Dev Cell 56, 1742-1755.e4.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.05.008PMID:34081907
  9. 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
  10. 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
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Photo credit: Courtesy of Ruth Lehmann