The winner of the 2014 Promega Biotechnology Research Award is Joachim Messing, Dr. rer. nat, Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, for his significant contributions to the start of the genomics revolution. Maynard Olson, University of Washington, describes Messing as “an under-recognized hero of the period during which recombinant-DNA applications spread explosively.”
Messing received his doctorate degree from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. After studies at the University of California at San Francisco and Davis, he quickly rose through the faculty ranks at the University of Minnesota. He currently teaches at Rutgers where he is Director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and the Waksman Chair in Molecular Genetics.
Conceptualizing and developing whole-genome shotgun DNA sequencing, suitable for contiguous chromosomal sequences, and the M13mp/pUC/JM cloning kits made him the most frequently cited scientist in the world during the 1980s. Messing made his innovations freely available, contributing to rapid advances throughout the life sciences. He applied these microbial tools to help create the field of plant genomics with a focus on raising the nutritional quality of food. For his participation in sequencing the rice genome, he and his colleagues received the World Technology Award in Biotechnology and the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award. In 2013, he won the prestigious Wolf Prize in Agriculture. Messing, a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement in Science, is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the oldest continuously existing science academy in the world.