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7 November 2003

Prof. Fotis C. Kafatos member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Director-General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory — honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg — joins the oldest scientific academy in the modern world

Prof. Fotis Kafatos, Director-General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), will receive the insignia of his appointment to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences from Pope John Paul II. The ceremony will take place between November 7 and 9, during the 400th year anniversary celebration at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences headquarters in Vatican City.

Appointed Director-General of the EMBL in 1993, Professor Kafatos also heads an active research group at this leading European laboratory. His current scientific work involves malaria research with emphasis on mosquito genomics and innate immunity of the malaria mosquito. He was instrumental in establishing the international consortium that determined the mosquito genome sequence in 2002, and in developing new approaches to elucidate the genetic basis of interaction, between the malaria parasite and its carrier mosquito. Prof. Kafatos is also actively involved in efforts to promote research and scientific education in the developing world.

"It is a humbling experience to be in the intellectual company of the likes of Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Perutz," comments Prof. Kafatos. "Remembering Newton and standing on the shoulders of such giants, it is our duty to see far, for the sake of science and humanity."

A dual Greek and American citizen, Prof. Kafatos has held distinguished academic positions at Harvard University (for 29 years) and at the Universities of Athens and Crete. His distinctions include three honorary doctorates and honorary professorships at the University of Heidelberg, as well as membership in the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of London, and the French Academy of Sciences.

Since its establishment in Rome in 1603, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has become an international and interdisciplinary scientific body with an increasing number of Academicians — distinguished scientist members. Its aim is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences as well as the study of related epistemological questions and issues.

About EMBL

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory is a basic research institute funded by public research monies from 17 member states, including most of the EU, Switzerland and Israel. Research at EMBL is conducted by approximately 80 independent groups covering the spectrum of molecular biology. Visitors from the press and public are welcome.

Please address any inquiries to
Trista Dawson
Press Officer
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Tel. (0)6221 387452, Fax 387525

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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