Helke Hillebrand


Dean of Graduate Studies

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)

Heidelberg, Germany


Helke Hillebrand studied Biology and Chemistry at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany and earned her diploma degree in Biology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.  She obtained her PhD at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany.

Helke has 13 years of professional experience past PhD as a plant molecular biologist in different working environments, including public (4 years) and private sector (9 years).  Prior to moving away from the daily work at the bench, Helke participated in and led scientific research projects related to plant physiology, plant molecular biology and biotechnology, both in academia (as an Assistant Professor of the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany) and later on in industry (as a senior scientist at SunGene, a BASF Plant Science company in Gatersleben, Germany).

Following her assignment at SunGene, she had been responsible for developing and implementing the enabling tool portfolio for the German-based plant biotechnology company, BASF Plant Science.  She led an international, multidisciplinary team with members located at eight different sites in Europe, Canada and the US.  Her tasks also included contract negotiations for collaborations, in-, out-, and cross-licensing of IP and know-how, as well as the administration of a significant budget covering the work of more than 50 people in-house and third party collaborations for joint technology development and implementation.

During her last two years at BASF, Helke took on a position as financial spokesperson with the Investor Relations Department where she was focusing on the company’s activities in agriculture, biotechnology and life sciences in general, as well as on sustainability initiatives and emerging businesses in Asia.

Her move in early 2008 to joining EMBL as the Dean of Graduate Studies for the EMBL International PhD Programme reflects her enjoyment working on general management and higher education strategies together with people in a multidisciplinary and international science and research-driven environment.




Helke Hillebrand

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Cancer Biology at UCC