Hans Robert Schöler was born into a German family in Toronto, Canada. He studied Biology at Heidelberg University and completed his PhD at the Centre for Molecular Biology in Heidelberg in 1985. From 1986 until 1988 he worked as a research group leader at Boehringer Mannheim (nowadays Roche). This appointment was followed by three years as a scientific fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. From 1991 until 1999, he headed his own research group at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.
From 1999 until 2004, Hans Schöler was Professor of Reproductive Physiology and the Marion Dilley and David George Jones Chair for Reproductive Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Animal Biology in Philadelphia, United States. In 1999, he was appointed Director of the Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research (CATGCR) at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine. Since 2004, he has served as Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States.
Upon his return to Germany in 2004, he became Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster, Department for Cell and Developmental Biology. He is also Professor at the Medical Faculty of the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster. In 2009, he was appointed as Adjunct Professor at the Hanover Medical School and, in 2012, the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Ulsan, South Korea, awarded him the title of “Distinguished Professor”. Moreover, the “Hans Schöler Stem Cell Research Center (HSSCRC)” at the UNIST was named after him. In 2014, Konkuk University in South Korea also awarded him the honorary title of “Distinguished Professor.”
Hans Schöler’s research focuses on understanding the toti-, pluri- and multipotency of mammalian stem cells (http://www.mpi-muenster.mpg.de/97787/schoeler). Early in his career, he made mouse preimplantation embryos amenable to biochemical analysis - a feat that led to the identification of the transcription factor Oct4. In 2003, his laboratory provided the first evidence that mouse embryonic stem cells can differentiate into eggs. This publication paved the way for a completely new area of research, and the implications for society at large are still being discussed today. This groundbreaking research led to the establishment of the “Hinxton Group,” an international consortium on stem cells, ethics, and law. In 2008, this noteworthy forum reported the “Consensus Statement: Science, Ethics and Policy Challenges of Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Gametes,” which was intended as a reference for public discussions, providing information on the state of science and its potential social implications as well as issuing guidelines for politics and practice (www.hinxtongroup.org/au_pscdg_cs.html).
Hans Schöler is a member of the ISSCR Annual Meeting Program and Publications committees and chair of the 2015 McEwen Award for Innovation Selection committee.