Short CV/Education and training

    Studied mathematics and physics at Cambridge University, UK

  • 1962
    B. A.

  • 1972
    Ph.D. in biophysics at Pennsylvania State University, USA

Selected publications

  • Weber, K., Osborn, M.: The reliability of molecular weight determination by dodecylsulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. In: J. Biol. Chem. 244, 1969. S. 4406-4412.

  • Osborn, M., Weber, K.: In: J. Virol. 15, 1975. S. 636-644.

  • Osborn, M., Weber, K.: In: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 73, 1976. S. 867-870.

  • Osborn, M., Franke, W.W., Weber, K.: In: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 74, 1977. S. 2490-2494.

  • Osborn, M. et al.: In: Cell 14, 1978. S. 477-488.

  • Osborn, M., Webster, R.E., Weber, K.: In: J. Cell Biol. 77, 1978. R27-R34.

  • Osborn, M., Weber, K.: In: Lab. Invest. 48, 1983. S. 372-394.

  • Domagala, W. et al.: In: Cancer 63, 1989. S. 504-517.

  • Kallajoki, M., Weber, K., Osborn, M.: In: EMBO J. 10, 1991. S. 3351-3362.

  • Harborth, J., Weber, K., Osborn, M.: In: EMBO J. 14, 1995. S. 2447-2460.

  • Harborth, J. et al.: In: EMBO J. 18, 1999. S. 1689-1700.

  • Gruber, J. et al.: In: J. Cell Sci. 118, 2005. S. 689-696.

Selected projects


  • Cellular organisation is based on a complex series of events involving gene expression, signal transduction, membrane traffic and the function of dynamic cytoskeletal networks. We have used antibodies in immunofluorescence microscopy to understand the distribution and function of the two ubiquitous filament systems – microfilaments and microtubules – which have as their major proteins actin and tubulin respectively. Antibodies also allowed us to show that intermediate filaments in different cell types are built from distinct but related proteins. Applying this knowledge we showed that intermediate filament proteins are useful markers in differential tumour diagnosis, where they can distinguish the major tumour types and provide additional information relevant to patient treatment.

  • Certain antibodies also allow a particular cytoskeletal organisation to be manipulated. When microinjected into live cells they not only find their target but also disturb the organisation creating a new phenotype which can be detected by immunofluorescence microscopy. Fine analyses of complexes within particular supermolecular organisations have been helped by the use of recombinantly expressed proteins or their individual domains. These can be analysed in vivo by transfecting the corresponding cDNA constructs into cultured cells. One example of this approach is work on NuMA. NuMA is an insoluble protein during interphase and translates to the spindle poles at mitosis. Microinjection of a particular NuMA antibody causes the formation of aberrant spindles and mitotic arrest as well as of micronuclei. Other studies were directed towards understanding how NuMA functions at the molecular level, as well as to seeing whether it has a role in the interphase nuclear matrix. In addition RNA interference (RNAi) was used as a tool to study gene function.

  • Thus my scientific interests are in the general area of cell biology and pathology – more specifically in the cytoskeleton, in certain proteins of the cell nucleus and in the use of antibodies in cancer diagnosis. I have published more than 280 scientific papers in these areas, and have been an invited speaker and chairperson at many international meetings e.g. plenary lectures at the ComBio2005 meeting in Australia and at the Portuguese Biochemical Society Meeting in 2006.

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • University of Göttingen Research Committee, since 2007

  • Scientific Council UNESCO-BRESCE (Venice), since 2005

  • Senate of the Helmholtz Society, 2005 – 2010

  • ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures), Group A, 2005 – 2007

  • Senate Commission of the Helmholtz Society, 2002 – 2004

  • Biofuture Prize Jury for the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), 1998 – 2009

  • Board of Trustees, MISTRA, the Swedish Foundation for the Environment, 1994 – 1997

  • President Elect, 2000 – 2003, and President, 2003 – 2006, International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB)

  • Academia Europaea, Chair, Cell Biology Section, 1997 – 2002

Membership on scientific advisory boards:

  • Thomson Scientific, Philadelphia, USA, 2006 – 2009

  • Max Delbruck Centre, Berlin, 1999 – 2002

  • German Research Centre for Environmental Health (HMGU, formerly GSF), Munich, 1999 – 2002

  • Biomedical Research Centre, Virchow Clinic, Berlin, 1996 – 2004

  • Mildred Scheel Foundation for Cancer Research, 1995 – 2001

  • Hinterzarten Circle (German Research Foundation (DFG)), 1994 – 2000

  • Pette Institute, Hamburg, 1992 – 1998, chair 1994 – 1998

  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, 1992 – 1997, chair 1995 – 1997

Prize juries:

  • Lóreal / UNESCO Women in Science, since 2007

  • Marie Curie Excellence Awards, panel chair, 2007

  • Descartes Prize (EU), 2006, 2007

  • Kaj Linderstrom Lang Prize, Copenhagen, Denmark, since 2003

  • Schrödinger Prize, 2001, 2002

Review panels (Germany):

  • GKSS Research Centre, Teltow, 2006

  • DFG Molecular Control Mechanisms of Cell Migration, 1998

  • Chair of Pette Institute Review, Hamburg, 1993, 1997

  • DFG Extracellular Matrix, 1992, 1994, 1996

  • DFG Signal Transduction, 1992

  • DFG Special Research Area Bielefeld/Münster, 1985, 1993

  • DFG Virus-Cell Interactions, Munich, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991

Review and other panels (international):

  • Occasional reviewer of grant applications for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dutch Cancer Society, MRC London, Austrian Science Fund (FWF) Vienna

  • Member of review panel for BMBF, Systems and Chemical Biology, 2007

  • Member of review panel, Departments of Biology and Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Pennsylvania State University, USA, 2006

  • Integrated projects review, 2004

  • Member of review panel for the EU, Expression of Interest, 2002

  • Member of review panels for VIB, Ghent, Belgium, 1998, 1999, 2005

  • Review panel Gene Expression (EMBL) 1996, and Cell Biology (EMBL), 1997

  • Member of review boards, Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), London, 1995, 2000

  • Co-chair, Differentiation Review at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), 1995

  • Chair, Cell Biology Review at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), 1993

Additional qualifications

  • Honorary professorship, Medical Faculty of the University of Göttingen, Germany, since 1989

  • Member of the scientific team at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, since 1975

  • Scientific Staff positions at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England, 1969 – 1972, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA, 1972 – 1975

  • Postdoc with Dr J.D. Watson, Harvard University, 1967 – 1969

Soft Skills/Other activities and achievements

Additional interests

Science Policy:

  • Chairperson at RS-IAP-ICSU Meeting on developments relative to the Biological Toxin Weapons Convention, 2006

  • Testified on Codes of Conduct for Scientists to States Parties to Biological Toxin Weapons Convention, Geneva, Switzerland, 2005

  • Member of European Life Scientist Organisation (ELSO) /European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) high-level meetings on the European Research Area, Paris and Venice, 2003

  • Member of High Level EU Panel on Steps Towards a European Research Area, Brussels, Belgium, 2000

Women in Science (EU and national Levels):

  • Member of Women in Science advisory board, Robert Bosch Foundation, 2005 – 2009

  • Keynote speaker at EU Conferences in 1998 and 2000, Chair of Session, 2001, 2009

  • Numerous lectures and talks at other conferences on women in science, e.g., EMBO, 2001, Dual Career Couples meeting, German Research Foundation (DFG), Stifterverband (donors' association) for German Science 2003, Meeting in Helsinki, 2006, Debate in European Parliament, 2007, EU Meeting in Prague, 2009, since 1999

  • Chair of European Technology Assessment Network (ETAN) network (funded with 125,000 Euros by the EU), that produced the ETAN Report "Promoting Excellence through Mainstreaming Gender Equality" (1999). This report was translated by the EU into French, Italian, German, Greek and Spanish. I also chose the other members of the ETAN panel

  • Rapporteur and speaker at the 1st EU International Workshop on Women in Science in Brussels, 1993

  • Testified to Women's Committee of the European Parliament, 1993


You can only see the contact information of the academics in the database if you are a registered user of AcademiaNet.
Please register here


  1. Read what our members say about AcademiaNet.

No more excuses!

  1. Please download the brochure "No more excuses" and read more about female experts in Europe, and about AcademiaNet.

Similar profiles

  1. Dr. Chantal Abergel

    Biological and related sciences , Physical sciencesEnvironmental virology, Molecular and structural biology, biochemistry

  2. Dr. Jessica Abbott

    Biological and related sciences Evolutionary biology, Evolutionary genetics

  3. Prof. Dr. Amparo Acker-Palmer

    Biological and related sciences , HealthCell Biology, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Vascular Biology, Tumour Biology

  4. Prof. Dr. Heike Allgayer

    Biological and related sciences , Health