Remembering Suzanne Eaton

The Max Planck Society mourns the death of an exceptional scientist and wonderful human being

July 22, 2019

The Max Planck Society mourns the death of Suzanne Eaton, whose life came to a tragic end in Crete on July 2, 2019. In a personal letter to her husband, Tony Hyman, Max Planck President Martin Stratmann paid tribute to Suzanne Eaton as an outstanding scientist and a wonderful human being, saying that Eaton had been a key person, an essential pillar of the Institute in Dresden right from its very beginning.

Suzanne Eaton was Senior Research Leader at the MPI for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics.

Suzanne Eaton was Senior Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, and a Professor at the Biotechnology Center of the Technical University of Dresden. In 2001, she started linking seemingly distant areas of research in her own laboratory in order to find deeper explanations for the pattern formation in the development of the fruit fly. The focus of her research was the question "How do cells form tissues?”

“Suzanne had a huge impact on the development of our institute in that she bridged different disciplines – biology, physics and mathematics – and as such inspired the interdisciplinarity that has characterized the research at the MPI-CBG since its conception”, writes the Board of Directors in their statement following with "Suzanne was in her own league”. Thanks to her insatiable curiosity and creativity, she discovered new and groundbreaking approaches to understanding how cells communicate with each other to form tissue. Through the discovery of signaling molecules, the morphogens, and their physical properties and interactions, Suzanne's team was able to explain how signals are spread over long distances in tissues. Most recently, Suzanne's research focused on the interaction of signaling and metabolic pathways.

 Her studies uncovered fundamental biological mechanisms, her publications in high-ranking journals speak for themselves: Suzanne Eaton has been a key player in her field of research, her scientific work has had an immense international impact in the wide scientific community. She played a big part in making the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, and the city of Dresden known throughout the world as a beacon of science and excellent environment for early career researchers.

She was instrumental in shaping the development of the Dresden Institute. Suzanne Eaton had a decisive influence on this community as a family-friendly, international, intellectual environment with plenty of room for innovative ideas. For her, there seemed to be no doubt that it was possible to balance a life lived to the full with a career in science. She found the perfect balance to combine her many roles of scientist, mother, athlete, and enthusiastic piano player. With her calm and steady personality, she made the first generation of young group leaders feel welcome coming to Dresden from top universities to develop their own research, giving them the feeling of having come to the right place and of being able to succeed.

We miss a wonderful, creative, lively, enthusiastic colleague and friend, and a brilliant scientist.

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