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Home > Laureates > Karolin LUGER
2023 WLA Prize Laureates

To Explore Uncharted Territories in Science

To Sculpt a Better Future

"For elucidating the structure of the nucleosome at the atomic level, providing the basis for understanding chromatin, gene regulation, and epigenetics."
Karolin LUGER
The 2023 WLA Prize Laureate in Life Science or Medicine
Professor, Jennie Smoly Caruthers Endowed Chair of Biochemistry, University of Colorado Boulder, U.S.A.
About the Laureate

Karolin Luger shares the 2023 WLA Prize in Life Science or Medicine with Daniela Rhodes and Timothy J. Richmond.

Prof. Karolin Luger is a distinguished Professor and an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; she holds the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Endowed Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Colorado in Boulder. 
Prof. Luger is a structural biologist who is recognized for her work on the nucleosome and on factors that maintain chromatin integrity. She is also interested in the evolutionary origin of the nucleosome, by studying histones in life forms that predate eukaryotes, such as giant viruses, archaea, and bacteria. The team also investigates the human DNA damage protein PARP1 with the goal of developing improved cancer therapies. Cryo-electron microscopy, crystallography, mechanistic enzymology, life-cell imaging, and many other techniques are used to answer deeply mechanistic questions regarding genome organization. Prof. Luger has a passion for teaching and for training the next generation of scientists, both in the classroom and in the lab. She has a strong track record in mentoring.  
Prof. Luger was born in Austria and obtained a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Innsbruck. She earned her Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Biocenter Basel (Biozentrum Basel), then moved to a postdoc at the ETH Zürich in 1990. She started her independent career at Colorado State University in 1999, and in 2015 moved to the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is a fellow of the Biophysical Society, a member of the National Academy of Science; of the American Academy of Arts and Science; and of European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). She loves all outdoor activities, in particular hiking and biking. 


1983, Bachelor's Degree in Biology/Microbiology, University of Innsbruck, Austria 
1986, Master's Degree in Biology/Biochemistry, University of Innsbruck, Austria 
1989, Ph.D. in Biochemistry/Biophysics, University of Basel, Switzerland

Professional Experience

1990-1994, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
1994-1999, Research Assistant Professor ("Oberassistent"), ETH Zürich, Switzerland
1999-2007, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Monfort Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Colorado State University, U.S.A.
2005-present, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, U.S.A.
2007-2015, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University, U.S.A.
2015-present, Jennie Smoly Caruthers Endowed Chair of Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, U.S.A.
2023-present, Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder, U.S.A.

Major Awards and Honors

1999, Searle Scholar Award
2000, Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Award
2004, Monfort Professor Award (Monfort Family Foundation)
2007, State Science Prize, Vorarlberg, Austria 
2012, Biophysical Society National Lecturer
2014-present, Biophysical Society Fellow
2017, Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2018, Elected Associate Member, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)
2018, Elected Member, National Academy of Science

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