Walter GEHRING – University of Basel

The Evolution of Eyes and Photoreceptors: From Cyanobacteria to Humans

Special Seminar VetMed University
Lecture Hall (Hörsaal) C, Building AE
Veterinary Medical University Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna

Research Profile

Walter J. Gehring is Professor Emeritus at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Switzerland. He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Zurich in 1965 and after two years as a research assistant of Professor Ernst Hadorn he joined Professor Alan Garen’s group at Yale University in New Haven as a postdoctoral fellow. In 1969 he was appointed as an associate professor at the Yale Medical School and 1972 he returned to Switzerland to become a professor of developmental biology and genetics at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. He is a Foreign Member of the National Academy of the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany and Sweden. In 2000 he received the Kyoto Prize for Basic Science, and in 2002 the Balzan Prize for Developmental Biology.

Walter Gehring has mainly been involved in studies of Drosophila genetics and development, particularly in the analysis of determination in the embryo and transdetermination of imaginal discs. He has made significant contributions to the study of the heat shock genes, various transposons and the homeotic genes which are involved in the genetic control of
development. He and his group have discovered the homeobox, a DNA segment characteristic for homeotic genes which is not only present in arthropods and their ancestors, but also in vertebrates up to man. Gehring has also been involved in the development and application of enhancer trapping methodsm, and he and his collaborators have identified Pax-6 as a master
control gene for eye development, which has led to a new theory about the monophyletic origin of the eyes in evolution.


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