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Fellows Directory

Mariann Bienz

Mariann Bienz

Dr Mariann Bienz FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2003


Mariann Bienz is a molecular biologist who studies the Wnt signalling pathway. This plays an important role in body patterning, cell migration and cell fate determination during embryonic development but, if incorrectly activated, also serves as a major cancer pathway. Her work investigating the molecular basis of this pathway may reveal new therapeutic targets for treating cancer.

Her early work examined how developmental genes are transcribed in relation to the position of cells in the embryo. Here she pioneered the use of the fruit fly midgut as a model system, and also identified the role that the Wnt pathway plays in the patterning of endodermal cells through signals from the overlying mesoderm.

During her time as a Professor at the University of Zurich and as a Group Leader at the MRC LMB in Cambridge, Mariann has supervised 21 PhD students and 22 postdocs. She has also served on, and continues to do so, various European grant panels and committees, including the Council of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), and on Scientific Advisory Boards in Spain and Switzerland. She has received a number of accolades in recognition of her work, including the Friedrich Miescher Prize of the Swiss Biochemical Society in 1990. In addition to being a Fellow of the Royal Society, Mariann has been elected as a Member of EMBO and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
  • Other
    • Public understanding of science


Wnt signalling, signalosomes and phase transitions, transcriptional switches, Molecular cancer pathways

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