About the Director

Martin Nowak 
Program for Evolutionary Dynamics
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts 
United States


Curriculum Vitae

Martin A. Nowak is Professor of Mathematics and of Biology at Harvard University and Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. He works on the mathematical description of evolutionary processes, including the evolution of cooperation and human language, as well as the dynamics of virus infections and human cancer. His major scientific contributions and discoveries include: a proposed mechanism of HIV disease progression; the rapid turnover and evolution of drug resistance in HIV infection; quantifying the dynamics of HBV infection; evolution of virulence under superinfection and coinfection; the role of chromosomal instability in human cancer; quantifying the dynamics of chronic myeloid leukemia; the accumulation of drivers and passengers in cancer progression; the evolution of drug resistance in targeted cancer therapy; the mechanisms for the evolution of genetic redundancy; "generous tit-for-tat" and "win-stay, lose-shift"; the alternating Prisoner's Dilemma; the evolution of cooperation by indirect reciprocity; spatial game dynamics; adaptive dynamics; evolutionary game dynamics in finite populations; evolutionary graph theory; five mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation; evolution of eusociality by natural selection; a mathematical approach for studying the evolution of human language; culturomics; "winners don't punish"; prelife; and the origin of evolution.

An Austrian by birth, he studied biochemistry and mathematics at the University of Vienna with Peter Schuster and Karl Sigmund. He received his Ph.D. sub auspiciis praesidentis in 1989. He went on to the University of Oxford as an Erwin Schrödinger Scholar and worked there with Robert May, the later Lord May of Oxford, with whom he co-authored numerous articles and his first book, Virus Dynamics (2000). Nowak was a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson and later Keble College. He was a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow. Nowak became head of the mathematical biology group at Oxford in 1995 and Professor of Mathematical Biology in 1997. A year later, he moved to Princeton to establish the first program in theoretical biology at the Institute for Advanced Study. He moved to Harvard University in 2003.

A corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Nowak is the recipient of the Weldon Memorial Prize of Oxford University, the David Starr Jordan Prize of Stanford University, and the Akira Okubo Prize of the Society for Mathematical Biology. Nowak is the author of over 450 papers and four books. Evolutionary Dynamics (2006) provides an overview of the powerful yet simple laws that govern the evolution of living systems. SuperCooperators (2011) argues that cooperation is the third fundamental principle of evolution beside mutation and selection.




select list
complete list

Some Press
Project Syndicate 2014
Discover Magazine 2012
Wisconsin Public Radio 2012 MP3
Plus Magazine 2012
Wired 2011
profil 2011
New York Times 2011
New Scientist 2011
ORF 2011
Die Presse 2011
Die Presse 2011
Studium 2011
New York Times 2010
Ziarul de Iasi 2010
Harvard Magazine 2010
JHU Gazette 2010
JHU news release 2010
bridges 2009
derStandard.at 2009
German Public Radio 2009
Die Presse 2009
Boston Globe 2008
Scientific American 2008
New York Times 2007
Boston Globe 2007
Harvard Magazine 2007
Panorama news magazine 2007
Yomiuri newspaper 2007
Die Presse newspaper 2007
Panda's Thumb 2007
ScienceBlogs 2007
Harvard Crimson 2003
Thirteen/WNET 2003
Stanford University News 2002
Esquire 1999
Discover Magazine 1993
New York Times 1992
Chicago Sun Times 1992

Current Research Interests
Evolutionary dynamics
Somatic evolution of cancer, genetic instability
Molecularly targeted anti-cancer therapy
Infectious diseases, immunology, virus dynamics
Quasispecies theory
Genetic redundancy
Evolutionary game theory
Adaptive dynamics
Finite populations
Evolutionary graph theory
Evolution of language
Cooperation, fairness, reputation
Indirect reciprocity
Group selection
Experimental games
Origin of evolution, prelife

1975-1983  Albertus Magnus Gymnasium in Vienna
1983-1989  University of Vienna, studying Biochemistry and        Mathematics
1985  First Diploma: Biochemistry (with highest honors)
1987  Diploma thesis: Theoretical Chemistry
1987  Second Diploma: Biochemistry (with highest honors)
1987-1989  Doctoral thesis: Mathematics
1989  Doctor rerum naturalium (sub auspiciis praesidentis)

Scientific Career
1987-1988 Institute for Theoretical Chemistry, Professor Peter Schuster
1987-1989 Institute for Mathematics, Professor Karl Sigmund
Sept-Nov 1988 Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany, Professor Manfred Eigen
1993 "Habilitation" at the Institute of Mathematics, University of Vienna (Universitäts Dozent)

1989-1990 Erwin Schrödinger Scholarship to work with Professor Sir Robert May
1990-1992 Guy Newton Junior Research Fellow, Wolfson College
1992-1998 Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Biomedical Sciences
1993-1996 E. P. Abraham Junior Research Fellow, Keble College
1995-1998 Head of Mathematical Biology Group
1996-1998 Senior Research Fellow, Keble College
1997-1998 Professor of Mathematical Biology

1998-2003 Head, Program in Theoretical Biology Institute for Advanced Study
1999-2003 Associated Faculty, Princeton University, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
2000-2003 Associated Faculty, Princeton University, Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics

2003- Professor of Mathematics and Biology
2003- Director, Program for Evolutionary Dynamics

Prizes, Named Lectures and Memberships
1990 Prize from the Austrian Science Minister
1990 Promotion sub auspiciis praesidentis rei publicae
1995 Richardson Lecture, Keble College, Oxford
1996 Weldon Memorial Prize
1997 Shanks Lecture, Vanderbilt University
1998 Albert Wander Prize and memorial Lecture, University of Bern
1999 Roger F. Murray Prize, Institute for Quantitative Research in Finance
1999 Akira Okubo Prize, International and Japanese Society for Mathematical Biology
1999 Erwin Schroedinger Lecture, University of Vienna
1999 Porter Lecture, Rice University
2000 Gergen Lecture, Duke University
2001 David Starr Jordan Prize, Stanford University, Cornell University, Indiana University
2001 Rainich Lectures, University of Michigan
2001 Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
2001 Benjamin Pinkel Lecture, University of Pennsylvania
2003 Henry Dale Prize, The Royal Institution, London
2006 Invited Lecture, Congress for Mathematics, Madrid
2006 R.R. Hawkins Award for Evolutionary Dynamics, Professional and Scholarly
Publishing Division of the American Association of Publishers
2007 Radon Lecture, Austrian Academy of Sciences
2008 Coxeter Lecture Series, Fields Institute, Toronto
2010 Templeton Research Lectures at Johns Hopkins University
2010 Doctor Honoris Causa, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania
2011 Max Planck Lecture, Stuttgart, Germany
2012 MBI 10th Anniversary Keynote talk, Ohio State University
2012 Plenary speaker, Canadian Mathematical Society
2013 Winifred Asprey Distinguished Lectures in Mathematics, Vassar College
2013 Plenary Speaker, 10th Seoul Digital Forum
2013 André Aisenstadt Chair, Centre de Recherches Mathématiques,
Université de Montréal
2013 Plenary Speaker, 11th INTECOL Congress, London
2014 Plenary Speaker, AACR Annual Meeting
2014 Keynote Speaker, Festsaal der ÖAW, Austrian Academy in Vienna
2014 Plenary Opening Talk, Nephrology Conference, Baden, Austria
2014 Keynote Lecture, 11th Austrian Research and Innovation Talk (ARIT)
2014 Keynote Lecture, Tencent Conference, Beijing
2015 Plenary Speaker, Collins Lecture Series, Massachusetts General Hospital 
2015 Doctor Honoris Causa, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology
2015 Keynote Speaker, International Society for New Institutional Economics (ISNIE)
2015 Plenary Speaker, Drug Discovery and Therapy World Congress, Boston

2016 Invited Lecture, Fermilab, Illinois
2016 Sewall Wright Speaker, University of Chicago
2016 Fannie Cox Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching 
2017 AACR Team Science Award
2018 The Edmund R. Michalik Distinguished Lecture Series, University of Pittsburgh

Editorial Work

Editorial board member: Proceedings of the Royal Society London, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Scientific Reports, Journal of Theoretical Medicine, Journal of Difference Equations, International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos. Referee: Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and others.

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