On 30th of April 2018 our colleague, mentor and friend Eliza Izaurralde passed away. She joined the institute in 2005 to head the Department of Biochemistry at the MPI for Developmental Biology.

Elisa will be remembered for her outstanding contributions to our understanding of RNA biology and in particular to the molecular mechanisms of RNA transport and RNA silencing which are both crucial for the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression.

Her research earned her the highest international reputation and was honored in 2008 with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation. Elisa was deeply involved in the promotion of young scientists and directed our graduate programs from 2008 until this year. We mourn for a trusted colleague and great friend.

Leave a message of condolence

Alicia Morandi | journalist, 26 September 2018
My dear classmate and friend Elisa. I will always remember you. You have been that kind of human being who touches our lives forever. I remember when you explained math and science to me, with an infinite patience and a sweet smile on your face. I used to call you the "Uruguayan Marie Curie". What a pride for our country to have you!
Descansa en paz amiga querida. Que lindo hubiera sido poder volverte a ver...
Ciaran Condon | CNRS Director of Research, 23 June 2018
I was very sorry to get this news. What a great scientist, gone way too soon. Rest in Peace, Ciaran
Manyuan Long | Edna K Papazian Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, 21 June 2018
I am saddened by the passing away of Eliza lzaurralde. I am sorry that I was unable to say a thank-you for your nice collaboration when you could hear us -- I planed to say so after we complete a manuscript in which we have you and your student to author with us. The data your group obtained from those beautiful experiments are so interesting for understanding of how new gene functions evolve but you are no longer able to share the excitement with us. Sad!
Jiyong Su | Associate professor in Northeast Normal University, China, 21 June 2018
Dear Elisa,
I thank you very much for giving me so many pieces of advice. Your motivation in science inspired me a lot...
Thank you!
Jonathan Dinman | Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland , 04 June 2018
Elisa was a fantastic scientist, outstanding mentor and valued member of our small, close community. We have lost a giant
Wolf Hirschmann | Freelance Clinical Research Associate and Scientific Translator, 03 June 2018
Dear Elisa, I am deeply saddened to learn of your untimely passing.
The advice and encouragement I received in my doctoral studies from Ralf-Peter Jansen and you was instrumental in making me a researcher whose confidence and inspiration spring from the joy of discovery and taking pride in precision.
The RNA world has lost a hard-working and sharp-witted researcher who was also a fair and motivational teacher.
You will be missed.
Felix Tritschler | Postdoctoral fellow, DESY, Hamburg, 28 May 2018
This news came as a shock. I am very deeply grateful for Elisa's mentoring and support and regret not having talked to her while there still was time.
She will be very badly missed.
Valérie Hilgers | Group Leader, Max-Planck-Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, 23 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

You have been a supportive mentor and great role model since the days I came to your lab as "less than a diploma student". I will miss you greatly.

Your untimely death is a terrible loss for the RNA community, and science in general.

Pavel Natalin | Genetic Analysis Lead, Russia and CIS, Thermo Fisher Scientific, 18 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

I will always remember you as an serendipitous researcher and my Teacher.
Heiko Keller | RNA Structural Biology, Goethe University Frankfurt, 17 May 2018
Elisa dedicated her life to the scientific community and will be greatly missed for her excitement about RNA biology and as an inspiration for young researchers.
Vinay Mayya | PhD student-McGill University, 16 May 2018
Dear Elisa,
As a student in your lab, you showed me how to be persistent and passionate about research. You’ve been an inspiration to me and all the people who knew you. You will truly be missed.
Evelyn Sauer | Team Leader, Roche Innovation Center Zurich, 16 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

when we attended the 2007 EMBO Meeting in Dresden every speaker received a silk tie. After giving your inspiring presentation and receiving this gift, you went back to the lectern.

Your words were: What does it say about an organization who gives a tie to a woman? It should be a matter of course that women are speakers too!

Affirmative applause followed.

Since 2007 many things have changed for women in science and your contribution will be remembered.

That's how I'll remember you.
Tamás Orbán | Group Leader, Institute of Enzymology, RCNS HAS, Hungary, 15 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

That was a sad and a way too early departure. I really appreciate that I could work in your lab - thanks for everything.

Isabelle Behm-Ansmant | CNRS Researcher, Nancy, France, 15 May 2018
Elisa,je n'arrive pas à croire que je ne verrai plus ton sourire illuminer ton visage.. tu m'as tellement apporté... repose en paix, Isabelle
Cecilia Maria Arraiano | Prof., ITQB, Universidade NOVA de LIsboa, Portugal, 15 May 2018
Dear Elisa:
It still seems unreal that you will not be attending the next RNA meeting...I have so many memories of times together. I am missing you already.
Rest in Peace, Cecilia
Johannes Ristau | PhD Student Karolinska Institutet, 15 May 2018
My deepest condolences to your family and colleagues, Elisa. As a young and unexperienced university student I got the chance to work under your supervision and was lucky to learn the basics in science, which I am so grateful for. Rest in piece.
Muge Kuyumcu-Martinez | Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 14 May 2018
My deepest condolences to her family and the scientific community. Her work had a profound influence on my PhD research. Her scientific excellence will be greatly missed.
Felicity Jones | Max Planck Research Group Leader, 14 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

You were an inspiring leader and role model who will be greatly missed. The institute will not be the same without you.

Tobias Walther | Professor, Harvard/HHMI, 13 May 2018
With a heavy heart we celebrate the life of an amazing person and scientist. As a graduate student, working next to her was a thrill and an honorl. As a person knowing her was a delight. I will miss Elisa....
Frank Chan | Group Leader, FML, 11 May 2018
It is been a true honour to be colleagues with you. I've learnt much from your example and benefitted from your tireless work with running the PhD programmes, IMPRS and the Institute in general. I still remember you reaching out to us when we first started, and when we brought our baby boy to the Campus.
Thank you. We will sorely miss you.
Marc Graille | team leader, Ecole Polytechnique-CNRS, France, 11 May 2018
So sad to hear about Elisa's death. I will miss seeing her at the front of the conference room always asking pertinent questions.
I will always remember the smile on her face.
Reinhard Janssen, 10 May 2018
We discovered a different side of Elisa when we met her enjoying the Salsa moves and rhythms in our Salsa class in Tübingen. We will miss you. "No importa qué, nadie puede quitarte los bailes que ya has tenido." (Gabriel García Márquez)
GEN ZHANG | Student UMass Med, 10 May 2018
Dear Elisa:
Thank you not only for your generosity, but also for the great science and discoveries in RNA biology, which my studies depend on.
We will remember you. We will carry on the science you started.
May you rest in peace!
Joel Richter | Professor, 10 May 2018
Outstanding person, outstanding scientist. Elisa was inspirational on so many levels - she was someone whom I would always seek out because she always had something important to say, and she said it with friendliness and graciousness.
Erin Schuman | Director, MPI for Brain Research, 10 May 2018
Elisa was an amazing scientist and human. I greatly admired her work and her willingness to stand up for the things she believed in. Knowing she was in the room always made me feel better, whether it was at an RNA conference, at an MPI Section meeting, or at dinner. Her death leaves a big hole and I hope that some of us can carry on with the smarts, strength and grace that Elisa had.
RACHID MAZROUI | Professor, 09 May 2018
Eliza, we will always remember your dedication and the great contribution to science. We will miss you
Imed Gallouzi | Professor, 09 May 2018
A very sad day for all of us. Elisa, you will forever be recognized as a true pioneer in the RNA field. RIP, you will be missed.
Carol Lutz, 09 May 2018
Elisa, you will be greatly missed by all in the RNA community.
Jeff Wilusz, 09 May 2018
Elisa - the RNA World is a lot darker these days. Your contributions are timeless and I'll never forget all of the great interactions we've had. RIP
Simon Bullock | Group leader, MRC-LMB, Cambridge, 09 May 2018
Elisa's wonderful talks and probing questions lit up the conferences we attended. A huge loss for the RNA community.
Ralf Adams | Director MPI for Molecular Biomedicine, 09 May 2018
Elisa - you will be greatly missed. You have always been a fantastic colleague and an inspirational personality. Your scientific legacy will live on through your seminal contributions and the many scientific talents that have been trained in your research group.
Erik Sontheimer | Professor, RNA Therapeutics Institute, UMass Medical School, 08 May 2018
Elisa -- you have given us all so much. Thank you for everything. We will all miss you greatly.
Paola De Magistris | Postdoc Researcher, Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, TUDelft, 08 May 2018
It has been an honour to complete my PhD under the wing of the IMPRS graduate school, that you directed with such care and integrity. Thank you for the science you have given to the world, and for inspiring generations of junior scientists, in and outside of your lab.
Brenda Bass, 08 May 2018
I so admired Elisa and her incisive intellect. The RNA world has suffered a huge loss. My thoughts are with her friends and family.
Maria Fernandez | PhD student (2014- present), 08 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

I am missing words to describe the support and feedback you have given me during all my PhD. Thank you for believing in me, for caring about me and for teaching me to do quality science. Wherever you are, thank you from the heart. I will not disappoint you.


Pascale Romby | Director of Research, CNRS, Strasbourg, 08 May 2018
Elisa, you have contributed so much to science. I will never forget your passion, enthusiasm and creativity...
Jennifer Doudna | Professor, University of California Berkeley, 08 May 2018
Elisa was a true scholar with a keen intellect and consistent creative flair. I loved her sense of humor and occasional biting wit. She is sorely missed by the many colleagues, friends and trainees for whom she made the world a better place.
John Gross | Professor, University of California, San Francisco, 08 May 2018
Elisa-it was a privilege to go from reading your papers to knowing you as a colleague. I am shocked and saddened that you are gone and will miss you. Thank you for your encouragement and questions , which elevated us to a higher level.
Zhi-Ming (Thomas) Zheng | Senior Investigator, 07 May 2018
A big loss for the RNA field! Elisa's legacy will be always remembered!
Mark Metzstein | Associate Professor, University of Utah, 07 May 2018
Elisa was a big influence on my work, but more then that, her vision and clarity in the RNA field was inspirational to all. I loved seeing her at meetings and having a chance to catch up. I will miss that most of all.
Olivia Rissland | Assistant Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 07 May 2018
Elisa, I can't believe that you're gone and that we'll never have a chance to talk science again. You have been (and will continue to be) such an inspiration, and I will always treasure that you believed in me and my science.
Joerg Braun | University of Massachusetts, 07 May 2018
Dear Elisa, you will be greatly missed. Your passion for science, dedication, scientific rigorousness, care, and standing up for your principles were inspiring. It was a great privilege having you as my mentor, thank you.
Eugene Valkov | Project Leader, 07 May 2018
A towering presence in her field. Warm, approachable, funny, resilient, fearless, caring and passionate. You inspired with your leadership, responsibility and integrity. Your smile will not fade in memory.
Elena Conti | Max Planck Institute Biochemistry, 07 May 2018
Elisa was an indefatigable and passionate scientist. And a friend. It still seems unreal that you are really gone.
Elmar Wahle | Professor of Biochemistry, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, 07 May 2018
I will remember Elisa's enthusiasm; her flawless data; her frightening efficiency; and the big smile on her face.
Boris Macek | Professor of Quantitative Proteomics, University of Tuebingen, 07 May 2018
We had a pleasure and privilege to collaborate with Elisa on several projects. She stood for outmost scientific quality and she was a big supporter of junior labs, including our own. Her warm personality and enthusiasm for science will always be remembered and carried further by us and her numerous coworkers and collaborators. Our thoughts are with her friends and family. Boris and the PCT
Michelle amd Francis Stewart | Professor of Genomics, TU Dresden, 07 May 2018
So sorry to hear of Elisa leaving us so soon. She was a brilliant scientist and always very friendly and kind.
Thilo Stehle, 07 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

I will always remember our spirited discussions and your genuine excitement about scientific discoveries - you will be very much missed !

Ruth Ley | Director, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, 07 May 2018
Thank you, Elisa, for your kindness and company.
Eric Huntzinger | Research Scientist, IGBMC, Illkirch, 06 May 2018
Elisa was an exceptional woman and I thank her for all the wonderful time that I spent in her lab. I will miss her a lot.
Matthias Wilm | Professor of Bioanalytical Research, Conway Institute, Dublin, Ireland, 06 May 2018
She always was an anchor in my life.
Bertrand Séraphin | Director of Research at the CNRS, 06 May 2018
We are missing a great colleague with a deep commitment to research and an insightful vision. Elisa, you departed much too early.
Duygu Kuzuoglu Ozturk | Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Francisco, 05 May 2018
Dear Elisa,
I am so sad by this unexpected news, it is very difficult to express my feelings. I can only thank you for all your support during my PhD. I have learnt so many things from you, it is impossible to list them here. Thank you to keep your door open for all of us all the time, thank you to show us how to be a dedicated, passionate, smart and knowledgeable scientist/mentor as you are, thank you for all the time we spent together during the meetings. I am grateful to have chance to be trained by you. I will always remember you with your smile. You will be deeply missed.
Georg Stoecklin | Professor, Biochemistry Dept., Heidelberg University, 05 May 2018
The rigor and dedication with which you pursued some of the most pressing questions in RNA biology made our world turn faster. We will forever miss your sharp mind and inspiring intellect.
Jacqueline Fischer-Lougheed | Principal Scientist II, 05 May 2018
My sweet dear friend Elisa. Your last message of April 3 gave hope. I cannot believe we lose you so young, we lose a well of knowledge and a pure heart.
Rachel Green | Professor, 05 May 2018
I am so saddened by the news. What a huge loss for friends, colleagues and the RNA community. We will all miss seeing Elisa right at the front of the auditorium asking insightful questions.
Fátima Gebauer | Group leader, Centre for Genomic Regulation, 05 May 2018
Elisa was a dear colleague ever since I met her at EMBL. Her sense of humor, incisiveness and generosity made me feel her very close. This is a great loss, and I will always remember her.
Sowndarya Muthukumar | Ph.D student, 2014-present, Izaurralde lab, 05 May 2018
Thank you Elisa, for your constant support and supervision. You have always been a source of great inspiration for us. Your insistence on perfection and attention to detail will stay with me forever. You will be missed.
Françoise Stutz | Prof. Dept. Cell Biology, University of Geneva, 05 May 2018
Dear Elisa
You have always been an inspiration since we met as young students in Geneva. Your outstanding energy, dedication and passion for science as well as your collegiality will continue to be an example for all of us and remain in our minds and hearts for long.
Dipankar Bhandari | Current Postdoc of the lab, 05 May 2018
We are missing you everyday. You always gave priority for our care. You not only taught us how to do science but also how to stand high in life. Every time talking to you I found myself learnt new ways of thinking. You inspired us everyday. You supported me and my family wholeheartedly in all our tough times. You are a part of our family. Wish we could bring once more your favorite cake for this 20th September. Every moment we are missing your enthusiasm, support and care. Miss you terribly Elisa.
Pavan Kumar Kakumani | Post-Doctoral Fellow, 05 May 2018
Really saddened and just could not believe hearing Elisa is no more. She is a great inspiration for young researchers and stood tall a pillar for the field of miRNA research. May her soul rest in peace.
Gene Yeo | Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, 05 May 2018
Elisa's scientific legacy will continue to be a source of great inspiration that will endure. We will miss her deep intellect and rigorous approach to science!
Ying Chen | MPI for biophysical chemistry, Göttingen, 04 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

You have been a wonderful person, a great scientist and a caring mentor. Thank you very much for the time and energy you spent for me during my PhD. You will always live in my heart.
Lynne Maquat | Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics; Director, Center for RNA Biology, University of Rochester Medical Center, 04 May 2018
Elisa was an outstanding scientist and a generous colleague. She kept my lab supplied in anti-CBP80 antibody until the rabbit died (and fortunately, antibody became commercially available). I could call or email her at almost any time, and she would respond. I remember emailing her on several occasions, never thinking she would reply immediately, and ending up advising her go to bed and get some rest! Elisa will be remembered as a remarkably accomplished woman. My heart goes out to her family, her lab and her close colleagues.
Lori Passmore | MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, 04 May 2018
Elisa was an amazing scientist who will be remembered for her passion, insight, curiosity and integrity. She will be greatly missed.
Patrick Cramer | MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, 04 May 2018
We are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Elisa. We will always remember her passion for science and many great contributions.
Christopher Lima | Professor, 04 May 2018
Your work was and will continue to be an inspiration to us all.
Dan Schoenberg | Professor, The Ohio State University, 04 May 2018
Elisa was a force of nature. Her enthusiasm for discovery will be greatly missed.
Harshesh Bhatt | EDHEC Business School, 04 May 2018
Elisa was a wonderful mentor who emphasized on curiosity, hard-work and the never-ending thirst for knowledge and self-discovery. Privileged to have work with her. Rest in peace.
Moritz Thran | Scientist, CureVac AG, 04 May 2018
Dear Elisa,

You were the smartest and by far the most dedicated person I have ever met.
Thank you for your efforts and contribution to our understanding of RNA biology.
Rest in peace.
Gabrielle Haas | Research scientist, IBMC of Strasbourg, 04 May 2018
The three years spent in your laboratory marked me forever. And I will never forget our last discussions a few years later. Thank you Elisa for all that you taught me and allowed me to learn about myself.
Guramrit Singh | Asst Professor, The Ohio State University, 04 May 2018
Elisa was a true stalwart in the field whom I admired since my early days in science. Always used to look forward to reading her next paper… a huge loss for us all. Her science will live on forever.
Jeff Coller | Professor, 04 May 2018
Elisa was a force in our field. Her contributions and discoveries are numerous. She is greatly missed by all of us.
Birgit Rogell | Project Manager Biorn Cluster, 04 May 2018
I was lucky that she was my mentor during my Diploma Thesis at the MPI. I will always remember her sharp mind, her highest passion for science and her mentorship. She had a big lab but she always had time to discuss results and future career planning with undergraduates. Thanks a lot for everything!
Utz Fischer | Professor, University of Würzburg, 04 May 2018
We lost a warmhearted and great friend and a brilliant scientist. We will miss her sadly.
Andreas Boland | MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, 04 May 2018
She was a great scientist and mentor and a wonderful person. I was fortunate to work with her for five years and her never-ending passion and curiosity has inspired all of us. Thank you very much Elisa!
Fred Allain | Professor ETH Zurich, 04 May 2018
The RNA field has lost a lot this week. Elisa you were a true inspiration for your enthusiasm, kindness and dedication. Thank you.
David Paquette | Science Officer CIAPM, 04 May 2018
Elisa was always pushing the field forward, demonstrating detailed mechanisms with the most beautiful structures. She made us work harder or we'd fall behind in the RNA decay field. Her drive will be missed.
Poul Nissen | professor, 04 May 2018
Elisa has always been a great inspiration to us all - she will be deeply missed
Roy Parker | Professor, University of Colorado, 04 May 2018
A rigorous and enthusiastic scientist, she will be greatly missed. Miss you already, Elisa.
Linda Koch | Chief Editor, Nature Reviews Genetics, 04 May 2018
Elisa kindly agreed to write for the journal a number of times and the editors always deemed ourselves lucky to work with her as an author. The whole team sends their sincerest condolences to Elisa's family, friends and colleagues.
Andrei Lupas | Director, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, 04 May 2018
A candle blown out long before its time. Elisa was always kind and dedicated, usually with a half-enigmatic smile on her lips.
David Gatfield | Associate Professor, University of Lausanne, 04 May 2018
I owe a lot to you. Your incredible energy and passion shall remain my inspiration. Thank you, Elisa-
Detlef Weigel | Director, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, 04 May 2018
Elisa was not only a fantastic scientist, but also enormously dedicated to our institute, our campus, our local university, the Max Planck Society as well as the scientific community at large. We will sorely miss her.
Oliver Mühlemann | Prof. of Biochemistry, Univ. of Bern, 04 May 2018
Elisa's passion and dedication for science has inspired all of us, over and over again. We'll deeply miss her.
Melissa Moore | CSO, Moderna Therapeutics , 04 May 2018
Elisa was a true force in the field. Her untimely passing is a tragic lost for us all. Be at peace Elisa. Know that you are missed...
Javier Caceres | MRC Human Geneetics Unit, University of Edinburgh, 04 May 2018
An uncompromising attitude for Scientific Excellence. She will be sorely missed.
Saverio Brogna | Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham, UK, 04 May 2018
An inspirational scientist Elisa has been: she will be remembered no doubts.
Isabel Palacios | Lecturer at SBCS, QMUL, UK, 04 May 2018
My personal and scientific life was so much brighter because she was in the world. Missing you.
Torben Heick Jensen | Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark, 04 May 2018
A scientific lighthouse has been switched off. R.I.P.Elisa.