Paul Schulze-Lefert was trained in biochemistry and genetics at Marburg, Freiburg, and Cologne Universities, Germany. After a Ph.D. thesis on cis-and trans-active factors regulating plant gene expression in response to light, he became interested in fundamental processes controlling plant microbe interactions. Major research areas are the innate immune system of plants, mechanisms of fungal pathogenesis, defense suppression, and the molecular basis of biotrophic lifestyle. The research program includes the development of novel quantitative non-invasive imaging technologies and plant chemical genetics as tools for the dissection of dynamic biological processes.
He worked from 1989 to 1990 as postdoctoral fellow in Francesco Salamini’s department at the MPIZ Cologne on the development of DNA marker technologies in plant genomes. In 1991 he started his own research group at the RWTH Aaachen with a focus on plant disease resistance mechanisms to fungal pathogens. From 1995 to 2000, he held a senior research position and supervised a research team in the Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre, England. Since 2000 he is head of the Department of Plant Microbe Interactions at the Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung (MPIZ), Cologne, and Honorary Professor at the University of Cologne since 2003. He is an elected EMBO member since April 2006 and a member of the science advisory board of Two Blades Foundation.
Much of his current work is dedicated to bridging traditional research areas like genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology in the endeavor of increasing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control plant microbe interactions.