Wieschaus's family moved to Birmingham in 1953 when his father, a chemical engineer, was transferred . He attended Catholic schools and graduated from John Carroll Catholic High School in 1965. Though he was inclined toward studying art, he was able to attend a program for young scientists during the summers after his junior and senior years in Lawrence, Kansas. He was inspired there to pursue science as a career.
Wieschaus went back to Indiana to attend the University of Notre Dame for his undergraduate studies. He earned a bachelor of science in biology there and then completed a Ph.D. in biology at Yale in 1974. After that he began working on a doctoral fellowship at the University of Zürich. In 1978, he moved to his first independent job, at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany where he teamed with Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard to study embryonic development. He moved from Heidelberg to Princeton University in New Jersey three years later.
Much of Wieschaus' research has focused on embryogenesis in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, specifically in the patterning that occurs in the early Drosophila embryo. Most of the gene products used by the embryo at these stages are already present in the unfertilized egg and were produced by maternal transcription during oogenesis. A small number of gene products, however, are supplied by transcription in the embryo itself. He has focused on these "zygotically" active genes because he believes the temporal and spatial pattern of their transcription may provide the triggers controlling the normal sequence of embryonic development.
In 1995, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Edward B. Lewis and Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard as co-recipients, for their work describing the genetic control of embryonic development.
As of 2005, Wieschaus is the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton, and Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
He has three daughters and is married to molecular biologist Gertrud Schüpbach, who is also a professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton, working on Drosophila oogenesis. They have three daughters.
- "Eric F. Wieschaus." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 20 Nov 2006, 01:05 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 1 Dec 2006 .
- Wieschaus's autobiograpy at Nobelprize.org
- Wieschaus profile at the American Society for Cell Biology
- Wieschaus, Eric F. (December 8, 1995) "From Molecular Patterns to Morphogenesis: The Lessons from Drosophila" (PDF), Nobel Prize Lecture.