21st Century - Biochemistry

Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann

Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann (9 November 1954 – 4 September 2015) was a Swiss biochemist and cell biologist working on interactions in the extracellular matrix.[1][2][3]

Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann was born in Zürich. She received her Ph.D. from the ETH Zürich in 1981. Her mentors were Hans M. Eppenberger and David C. Turner. As a postdoctoral fellow she worked with Robert Dottin at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US. In 1984 she joined the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel as a Junior group leader and was promoted to Senior group leader in 1993.

In 2006 she was appointed as Adjunct Professor (Titularprofessorin) at the University of Basel. She was a board member of the Swiss Cancer League and the Cancer League of Basel, and chaired the Swiss Society for Connective Tissue Research. She served as a Council Member of the International Society for Matrix Biology. At the age of 60, she suffered a sudden death at her home in Pratteln, near Basel.[4]

Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann’s research focused on the influence of the extracellular matrix on cell behavior, a very new field at the time. Today it is recognized that different matrix proteins influence cell adhesion, cell growth and migration, tissue morphology and signal transduction in specific and decisive ways. Chiquet-Ehrismann contributed pioneering work on the tenascin gene family of matricellular proteins, of which some members were discovered, cloned and sequenced by her group. Different tenascins have related domain organisations and their 3-6 subunits oligomerize into star-like structures (“hexabrachion”). Tenascin C interferes with the adhesion of many cells to fibronectin, which led to the concept that it is anti-adhesive[1, 2]. Tenascin C accumulates in the stroma of carcinomas and is a sensitive tumor marker that is involved in cancer metastasis. More recently, Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann and her group discovered roles for tenascin C and tenascin W in stem cell[3] and cancer metastatic niches[4], and elucidated how tenascin C expression is controlled by the transcription factor MKL1, that links cellular mechanosensation to fibrosis and cancer progression[5]. Chiquet-Ehrismann and her group also discovered the teneurin gene family[6, 7]. These type II trans-membrane proteins are conserved throughout animals and function in germ cell development, neuronal pathfinding and CNS development. The cleaved intracellular domain functions in transcriptional regulation[8]. During 31 years of work at the Friedrich Miescher Institute, Chiquet-Ehrismann guided a very active research group. Many excellent Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows emerged from this group, who continue to develop the interesting field of matrix research. Her group had a high international reputation and collaborated with many scientists around the world [key publications 1-8]. She won the Huggenberger-Bischoff Prize for Cancer Research in 1990.


  1. ^ “Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann”FMI. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  2. ^ FMI. “Obituary Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann (1954 – 2015)”www.fmi.ch. Retrieved 2024-01-17.
  3. ^ Matthias, Gabriele Yvonne. “The Gender Gap In Science Is Still Very Real”Forbes. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  4. ^ “Memorial: Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann: Tenascin Pioneer” (PDF). The Matrix Letter14 (2): 7–8. Retrieved 17 April 2016.

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