Stanford, CA—Plant physiologist Wolf B. Frommer has been selected to lead the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology on the campus of Stanford University. Frommer has been acting director of the department since 2007 and a staff member there since 2003. The department is one of the four leading non-profit research institutions focusing on plant science in the U.S.


Before coming to Carnegie, Frommer was a full professor and Chair of Plant Physiology at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in Germany. There he led a group of 80 from 1996 to 2003. From 1997 to 2001 he was also cofounder and director of the Center of Plant Molecular Biology in Tübingen, where he oversaw 150 employees. In the past two years, as Vice President of the Joint Bioenergy Institute in Emeryville, CA, he helped build up the Feedstocks Division.

“Wolf is exceptionally qualified to lead Plant Biology,” commented Carnegie president Richard Meserve. “His unique, interdisciplinary approach and vision for plant science, plus his leadership skills will take the department to a new level. We could not be more pleased.”

Frommer remarked: “It is a great honor and great challenge to lead the efforts to systematically unravel the intricate clockwork that makes plants into incredibly efficient organisms. These efforts, while aiming at a basic understanding of the workings of the clockwork, will help design better crops for food and energy. To meet the future challenges, we will need a massive increase in funding for basic and applied plant science in the U.S. and the world.”

Frommer is well known for his work in which he identified the first sucrose, amino acid and ammonium transporters from plants as well as the development of FRET metabolite sensors that allow his group to measure sugar and amino acid changes in real time. This work helps to understand how plants distribute energy from leaves, the sites of photosynthesis, to roots and seeds.

Frommer studied genetics, botany, and biochemistry at the University of Köln and received his masters and doctorate there at the Institute for Genetics. He also served on the faculty for Biology at the Free University of Berlin. From 2007 to 2009, Frommer served as vice president of the Feedstocks Division at the Joint Bioenergy Institute. He also founded the biotechnology company SYMPORE GmbH in Tübingen, in 2000.

Frommer has published 200 papers and has 26 patents and patent applications. He received the highest honor awarded in German research, the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Award from Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft in 1998, and in 2001 he received the Körber Award for European Science. Frommer is a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science.

News Topic: 
Plant Genetics