Karin Moelling on Becoming a Scientist
  Karin Moelling     Biography    
Recorded: 06 Jun 2006

Oh, that was complicated. I was, I wanted to be a schoolteacher for physics, and mathematics, and natural sciences and when I finished my diploma at the University of Keele I couldn’t find a job. And they were telling me, you know ‘We don’t want a woman for anything like this.’ So I looked around and I saw an advertisement physicist and for biology and I got a very [unintelligible] scholarship, so I said I want to do this and I went to Berkeley and in Berkeley you do some physics in biology by using high energy accelerated particles, which I taught my PhD in, my diploma in. So I was in nuclear particle physics and I thought wow that’s a continuation. But, it turned out that this was more or less what do you do with radioactivity on, on tissue and total body of dogs and I didn’t like that so much and somebody said: ‘There is something like molecular biology, why don’t you do that?’ Then, I said ‘What is it?’ So I learned biochemistry, I took the crash courses. I was not very successful, it was difficult for a physicist, but I did it and I never regretted it. So I booked on the honorary preliminaries with a person by the name Mike Chamberlain who used to work at the University of California, then I isolated a sigma factor that was my little project

Karin Moelling currently retired professor, still affiliated with the University of Zurich and the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. She studied molecular biology at the University of Berkely, Califonia. She received her PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Virology at Tübingen in Germany. She did two post-doctoral research at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin (1973-1975), and at the Institute of Virology, University Giessen. In 1977 she received her Habilitation at the University of Giessen in Biophysics on "Replication of retroviruses".

From 1976 till 1981 she was the Head of Independent Research Group at Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, Germany, on oncogenes, proto-oncogenes, cancer and HIV. In 1993 she became the Director of Institute of Medical Virology (IMV) and Full Professor at University of Zurich in Switzerland, she held this position till 2008. Between 2008-2009 she was Fellow of Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin and between 2008-2011 she became a Group Leader, Viruses and Cancer at University of Zurich.

Her research focus on retroviruses and cancer from molecular mechanisms to drug design. She is a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. She received several awards e.g. SwissAward in 2007, 4 prices: Czerny Price, Richtzenhain Price, Meyenburg Price and Ansman Price. She was Selected as Heisenberg Fellow in German Science Foundation.

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