Dr. Joachim Messing ~ 1946 - 2019  (excerpt from Obituary)

Joachim (Jo) Messing, the Selman A. Waksman Professor of Molecular Genetics, University Distinguished Professor, and long-time director of the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University, has died at age 73.  Messing made pioneering and foundational contributions that underpin the modern fields of genetics, genomics, and evolutionary biology.  He invented “shotgun” sequencing of DNA, an approach that vastly empowered the advance of the genomic era of biology.  The tools he created and distributed widely without restrictions put the sequencing of DNA in everyone’s hands and led to its automation and in time its industrialization.  His work fueled both fundamental and applied applications that have been transformative globally in agriculture, medicine, and the basic sciences.

Messing’s life was one of many achievements and a few ironies.  Amongst the latter was his attendance, at age 23, at a summer science conference in Lindau in 1970.  A treasured remembrance from that conference is a now-faded photograph of Jo standing behind Selman A. Waksman, the winner of the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and a long-time Rutgers faculty member.  It was with funds from the prize and other sources that Waksman built the first building of the Institute that bears his name and of which Messing was the fourth director.  

Messing is survived by his wife and life partner Rita, son Simon, daughter in law Lisa, and three grandchildren (Daniel, Lukas, Henry). He is also survived by sister Angelika; a devoted staff; and many colleagues and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Joachim Messing Memorial Fund. For more information, contact Erin Sorge 848-445-4256 or