HAInews 2023/01Frauke Melchior Becomes New Rector of Universität Heidelberg

Heading Heidelberg University in future will be molecular biologist Prof. Dr Frauke Melchior: The Senate and University Council elected the 60-year-old scientist as Rector of Ruperto Carola. She will take up her new office as of 1 October this year; she succeeds incumbent Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, who will end his third term prematurely after being re-elected twice.

Frauke Melchior

In response to her election, Prof. Melchior said: “I am thrilled at this election as Heidelberg University has always been a very special place for me. Top-level research and teaching thrive here in a very livable, international environment. Here we have outstanding interaction with many non-university partners and here we are firmly rooted in the city and the region. Above all, however, I am grateful for the great trust that the members of the Senate and the University Council have shown me and I look forward to good cooperation as we continue to develop our alma mater.”  The appointment of the new rector for a term of six years is made by the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg.

Frauke Melchior has been a member of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich since 2021. To this end, she was granted leave of absence from her professorship at the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH). She studied chemistry at the University of Marburg and the University of Bristol (United Kingdom) and in 1990 earned her doctorate in Marburg on a biochemical topic. As a postdoctoral researcher in the field of molecular cell biology she first worked at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen and from 1992 at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla (USA). There she studied protein sorting in human cells and discovered what is called the SUMO protein – denoting a mechanism of post-translational protein modification which became a focus of her scientific work. In 1998 the scientist started the first research group of her own at another Max Planck Institute, the MPI of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich. Six years later she accepted a professorship for biochemistry in the field of human medicine at the University of Göttingen.

In 2008 Prof. Melchior was appointed to the Faculty of Biosciences at Heidelberg University in order to continue her research as Professor for Molecular Biology at the ZMBH. As of April 2021 she transferred to Forschungszentrum Jülich, which is one of the research centres in the Helmholtz Association, as a member of the Board of Directors. There Prof. Melchior is responsible for Scientific Division III – Life Sciences. Frauke Melchior has served in various specialist societies and bodies. For instance, she was a member of the Senate of the German Research Foundation from 2012 to 2016 and since 2014 has been a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.