Meet Iris

Illustration of an adult visual system of Drosophila, generated by Iris using the linocut technique and acrylic ink for printing effects.


Iris grew up in the Bavarian countryside south of Munich (Germany). She conducted her undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of Regensburg (Germany) with a focus on Zoology. Subsequently, funded by a fellowship of the French Government, she worked for nine months in the CNRS laboratory of Dr. Yves Pichon in Gif-sur-Yvette (France). This transformative stay in 1990/1991 raised her deep interest in the topic of Developmental Neurobiology. Returning to Germany, she obtained a PhD degree in Neurobiology from the University of Regensburg in 1995. Her project under the direction of Dr. Juergen Boeckh focused on the role of neuron-glia interactions in the embryonic olfactory system of hemimetabolous insects using light and electron microscopy techniques. For her postdoctoral studies, she joined the laboratory of Dr. S. Lawrence Zipursky at UCLA, Los Angeles, USA, supported initially by a fellowship of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and then by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Under his mentorship, she began to investigate the molecular mechanisms regulating photoreceptor axon guidance, finding her enduring fascination for Drosophila visual circuit assembly.

In 2000, she moved to the UK to establish her first independent research group as a career-track and subsequently tenured program leader in the Division of Molecular Neurobiology at the Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research in London (MRC NIMR). In 2015, she became a senior group leader at the Francis Crick Institute. In December 2019, she joined the Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris (France) as a group leader and ENS professor. She became an EMBO Young Investigator in 2003 and was elected to EMBO in 2013. She served and continues to serve on a number of panels, such as the MRC Neuroscience and Mental Health Board (UK), the ATIP-Avenir Neurosciences and Disorders of the Nervous System LS5 panel (France), and the EMBO Global Investigator Network Committee.

Qualifications and professional experience

1991-1995: PhD studies, University of Regensburg, Germany
1995-2000: Postdoctoral fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
2000-2015: Group leader, Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK
2015-2019: Senior group leader, The Francis Crick Institute, London, UK
12/2019 – : Group leader and Prof. ENS, Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France