Skip to content
Fellows Directory

Fotis Kafatos

Professor Fotis Kafatos ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 2003


Fotis Kafatos was a Greek developmental and molecular biologist and influential research leader who made tremendous contributions in the fields of genetics and genomics. Fotis developed ‘cDNA cloning’, a technique that has been critical to modern molecular biology, and was a key figure in insect genome sequencing programmes.

At 29 years of age, Fotis became the youngest professor ever appointed at Harvard University. Here he pioneered game-changing technologies for molecular biology — cDNA cloning and the dot blot. Fotis’s team was the first to clone an entire mammalian gene, and to demonstrate that gene regulation sequences were the same in evolutionarily distant animals.

As well as launching genome projects for the fruit fly and the malaria-carrying mosquito, Fotis held several influential positions in European research. He was a founder of the University of Crete, Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, and the first President of the European Research Council.

Professor Fotis Kafatos ForMemRS died on 18 November 2017.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups