Joerg Bewersdorf appointed Cushing Professor of Cell Biology

A member of Yale’s faculty since 2009, Bewersdorf is an international leader in the field of super-resolution microscopy.
Joerg Bewersdorf
Joerg Bewersdorf

Joerg Bewersdorf, an international leader in the field of super-resolution microscopy, was recently appointed the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Cell Biology, professor of biomedical engineering, and professor of physics, effective immediately.

Bewersdorf received his undergraduate degree and his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1998 and 2002, respectively, both in physics. His postdoctoral research was at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen (2002-2005). He then joined The Jackson Laboratory as an Associate Research Scientist and was later promoted to independent junior research staff scientist. In 2009, he moved to Yale as assistant professor of cell biology. He was awarded early tenure in 2014 and promoted to professor with tenure in 2018.

Super-resolution microscopy enables fluorescence-based imaging inside cells and tissues at extremely high resolution. Discovery of the basic physical principle that enabled this was a major breakthrough, recognized in 2014 with the Nobel Prize, which was awarded to Bewersdorf’s Ph.D. thesis supervisor, Stefan Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Gottingen).

Since coming to Yale, Bewersdorf has taken the field in new and important directions. His cross-disciplinary knowledge of cell biology, physics, and engineering has enabled an extraordinary range of collaborations at Yale and beyond. In so doing, he has made the university one of a handful internationally that are pre-eminent in this foundational interface of biology, physics, and engineering.

Bewersdorf and his research group recently achieved another major advance in super-resolution microscopy which effectively enables light-based images of subcellular ultrastructure that are equivalent to electron microscopy, combined with precise localization of targeted proteins by fluorescence-tagging. This technology, which has resulted in a Yale-supported startup company, promises to be an important tool for cell biology and molecular pathology.

Since arriving at Yale, he has published many research papers in leading journals in the field. He serves on the advisory boards of several major international universities and research institutes, is a standing member of an NIH Study Section, co-directs an annual course on advanced microscopy at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Cell Biology.

Bewersdorf has also mentored a large number of Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scientists, and Yale undergraduates. In the Department of Cell Biology, he serves as Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, is a member of the Executive Committee and the DEI Committee, and has offered leadership in faculty recruitment searches. He further serves on the Biological Sciences Tenure Committee, the Executive Committee of the PEB graduate program, and is the course director for the ethics course for graduate students as well as co-director of a well-received microscopy graduate course “Illuminating Cellular Function.”

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