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Director, Department of Microbiome Science, Max Planck Institute for Biology

Ruth Ley is the current Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, and the Director of the Department of Microbiome Science. Her research team performs basic science research into the ecology and evolution of the human gut microbiome. Ley received a BA in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her post-doctoral work at Washington University School of Medicine with Dr. Jeffrey Gordon was the first to link the microbial ecology of the gut to health and disease, with pioneering research on obesity in mice and humans. In July 2008, Ley joined the Department of Microbiology at Cornell University as an Assistant Professor, and in 2013 became an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. At Cornell University, her lab made the first observations of the role of the gut microbiome in pregnancy, and the first links between human genetic diversity and the microbiome. Now at the Max Planck Institute for Biology, her work continues to reveal fundamental insights into the gut microbiome.


  • –present
    Director of Microbiome Science , Max Planck Institute


Otto Bayer Award, Member of the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina