Ruth Ley is currently the Managing Director of Max Planck Institute for Biology, Tübingen, where she is the Director of the Department of Microbiome Science. Her roles include co-Speaker for the Cluster of Excellence "Controlling Microbiomes to Fight Infection" with the University of Tübingen, Germany. Ley is a Member of the Scientific Council of the Institut Pasteur, Paris.
Ley received a BA in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992, a PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She received a NRC-NASA Fellowship for post-doctoral work with Dr. Norman Pace at CU Boulder. In 2004 she moved to Washington University School of Medicine to work with Dr. Jeffrey Gordon on the human microbiome. She was named an Instructor in 2005 and a Research Assistant Professor at Washington University School of Medicine in 2007. In July 2008, Ley joined the Department of Microbiology at Cornell University as an Assistant Professor, and in 2013 became an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.
Ley's awards include a Fellowship in Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the ISME Young Investigator Award, and the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine. She is a member of EMBO, of the European Academy of Microbiology, and of the American Academy of Microbiology. In 2020 she was elected to the Leopoldina German National Academy of Sciences. She is the recipient of the 2020 Otto Bayer award.