Professor Maciej Zylicz was born in 1953 in Gdansk. Studied experimental physics and biology at the University of Gdańsk. In 1980 he completed his doctorate in biochemistry, in 1986 he was awarded his habilitation degree in molecular biology, and in 1992 he was made professor. In 1980-1999 he worked at the University of Gdańsk, where he was vice-rector for science (1990-1993). In 1993-1994 he was a visiting professor at the Institute of Oncology of the University of Utah. In 1999-2016 he was head of the Molecular Biology Department of the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw.
Among Prof. Żylicz’s interests are the molecular biology of heat shock proteins. He isolated the first heat shock proteins and recognized their role in DNA replication. With colleagues, he has demonstrated that these proteins are also involved in the protection of proteins of other types, dissociation of oligomers and protein aggregates, and proteolysis. Since 2000, he has been investigating the role of heat shock proteins in cell transformation, showing that tumor suppressor protein p53 requires heat shock proteins to work and that the MDM2 oncogene possesses the activity of a chaperone protein. The author of almost 90 scientific works cited in the global literature (over 6000 citations), he has supervised 15 doctorates in Poland, while six of his closest colleagues (doctoral and habilitation candidates) have been appointed as professors.
Prof. Żylicz is a full member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Academia Europae and the European Cancer Research Academy, and corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In 1997-2000 he was a member of the Council of the Polish State Committee for Scientific Research, in 2001-2004 Chairman of the Group for Biological Sciences, Earth and Environment Protection and member of the State Committee for Scientific Research, and in 2001-2002 Chairman of the Base Research Committee there. Currently, he is a member of the Senate of the Max Planck Society.
He is also a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and was a member of its Council in 2003-2007, as well as of the Polish Biotechnology Society, Polish Genetics Society, and American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In 2008-2010 he chaired the Molecular and Structural Biology and Biochemistry Panel (LS1) of the European Research Council. He also served as the Polish delegate to the European Molecular Biology Conference (2000-2004) and the European Science Foundation (2003-2005). He was a member of the ERC Identification Committee (2010-2013). He was a Voluntary Advisor to the President of the Republic of Poland (2010-2015). Since 2014 is a member of Max Planck Senat.
The recipient of the Foundation for Polish Science Prize (1999), the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland’s Award for Scientific Achievements (2002), as well as honorary doctorates from the University of Wrocław (2007), University of Gdańsk (2011) and Jagiellonian University (2013).
Prof. Żylicz was appointed President of the Foundation for Polish Science Executive Board by the Foundation Advisory Board on 20 May 2005.