Eric Karsenti studied biophysics at the Faculty of Sciences in Paris and completed his PhD at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1979. He contributed greatly to understanding molecular mechanisms governing the cell cycle. He collaborated with physicists and developed a new approach in cell biology that helped explain how the shape of cells and their division emerge from complex and dynamic molecular interactions.
He created the Cell Biology and Biophysics Department at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).This interdisciplinary department is composed of a dozen groups working on cell and embryo morphogenesis with specialties ranging from cell biology and genetics to the development of new imaging methods, and also includes groups of statistical physics. CNRS research director and head of unit at EMBL, Eric is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Academy of Sciences. He is an avid sailor and was the scientific director of the Tara Oceans expedition and co-led Tara Oceans Polar Circle.