Fritz Eckstein, PhD
Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine
Dr. Eckstein received a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1960 at the University of Bonn in Germany. This was followed by a postdoctoral time at the University of Toronto for 2 years with Prof. H. Baer synthesising phosphatides. He then moved as a 1962/1963 postdoc to Harvard University with Prof. R. B. Woodward working on the synthesis of vitamin B 12. On returning to Germany he joined the Max-Planck-Institute for experimental medicine in Goettingen in the dept. of Prof. Cramer, subsequently as a group leader, and from 1972 on also as adjunct professor at the University of Goettingen. This was the beginning of working on nucleic acids, in particular on their chemical modifications. This interest led to the development of the phosphorothioate modification with unexpected properties. Among these are the resistance to nucleases which made this modification particularly interesting for therapeutic oligonucleotides.
In addition there is the nucleophilicity of the sulfur for the attachment of reporter groups and its reaction with iodine for cleavage. Dr. Eckstein had several sabbatical leaves of various lengths. Among these were one in 1980 at the University of Washington in the Dept. of Pharmacology with Prof. D. Storm, one in 1987 at the Medical Res. Council in the Laboratory of Mol. Biol. with G. Winter in Cambridge and one in 1998 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the Dept. of Biol. Chemistry with Prof. H. Soreq. From this university he received an honorary Ph.D. in 2006.