Waksman Institute Director Honored at Celebration of Achievement

Richard McCormick, University President, congratulated Messing for his numerous accomplishments in research, as well as his leadership at Rutgers. To mark the occasion, McCormick unveiled the official portrait of the Director, which will join those of Waksman’s great leaders: Selman Waksman, Oliver Lampen and David Pramer. Aaron Shatkin, Director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Robert Goodman, Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Jay A. Tischfield, Director of the Human Genetics Institute, joined the celebration to salute Messing with words of praise and stories from their years of working together.

Messing has been University Professor of Molecular Biology and the Director of the Waksman Institute since 1985, over a quarter-century.  In 2009, he became the first holder of the Selman A. Waksman Chair in Molecular Genetics.
During his tenure at Rutgers, Messing has played a pivotal role in the Life Sciences. He was instrumental in the creation of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, the Division of Life Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and the Department of Genetics.

Messing is the creator of path-breaking methodologies in molecular biology that have become part of the standard repertoire of the life sciences. These techniques include whole-genome (“shotgun”) sequencing and important aspects of DNA cloning, functional genomics, and protein engineering.His work has had a tremendous impact on science, medicine, industry, and society. Messing’s innovations were so influential that his publications became the most frequently cited ones in all sciences for the entire decade of the 1980s.

Over the years, Messing has earned prestigious honors and worldwide acclaim. In 2007, he was inducted as a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the oldest scientific association in continuous existence in the world. In addition to his early work in molecular biology, Messing has recently focused on plant genetics and alternative bio-energy sources. He is well known for the studies of grass genomes and his laboratory has contributed to the sequencing of rice, sorghum and maize.