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HMLS Prize for Heidelberg researchers

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, Rector of the University of Heidelberg, awarded the HMLS Prize to Prof. Dr. Bernd Bukau, Centre for Molecular Biology in Heidelberg, and Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Kräusslich, Institute of Hygiene at the University of Heidelberg. The prize comes with a purse of 200,000 euros.

Within the Excellence Initiative (third strategic hub - concepts of the future) of the University of Heidelberg, the Molecular Life Sciences in Heidelberg will be combined into an institution independent thematic alliance: HMLS (Heidelberg Molecular Life Sciences). The HMLS’ first activities will be the funding of an alliance between programme A of the DKFZ and the Centre for Molecular Biology at the University of Heidelberg, and the foundation of the HMLS Research Council. The Research Council combines all five Heidelberg institutions that focus on molecular life sciences research: the Life Sciences and Medical Faculties of the University of Heidelberg, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPIMP), the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. The Research Council will in future accompany HLMS activities in a critical and advisory capacity.

Every year, the HMLS awards a prize worth 200,000 euros to outstanding Heidelberg scientists

This year, the Prize will be jointly awarded to Professor Bukau, ZMBH, and Professor Hans-Georg Kräusslich, who have made outstanding contributions to the Excellence Initiative and to the foundation of the HMLS in Heidelberg.
Portrait of Prof. Dr. Bernd Bukau
Prof. Dr. Bernd Bukau, Director of the ZMBH, Life Sciences Faculty at the University of Heidelberg (Photo: University of Göttingen)
Portrait of professor doctor Hans-Georg Kräusslich
Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Kräusslich, Director of the Institute of Hygiene, Medical Faculty at the University of Heidelberg (Photo: University Hospital Heidelberg)
The scientific achievements of Bernd Bukau, Director of the Centre for Molecular Biology at the University of Heidelberg (ZMBH) involve research into the mechanisms of cellular quality control. In addition, he has played a key role in the University’s participation in the German government’s Excellence Initiative and in cementing the alliance between the ZMBH and the DKFZ.

Bukau and his team are studying the correct folding of new proteins and the repair of defective proteins, a fundamental process for the maintenance of cellular functions. Key elements in this control system are molecular chaperones. These are proteins which assist folding and assembly of newly synthesized proteins, translocation of unfolded proteins across membranes, as well as refolding and degradation of misfolded and aggregated proteins. Chaperones furthermore control signal transduction pathways through association with kinases and transcription factors, thereby leading to their regulated inactivation and degradation.

Hans-Georg Kräusslich, Director of the Hygiene Institute of the Medical Faculty whose work focuses on virus research, deals with the most devastating human pathogens. His particular fields of interest are the human immunodeficiency virus (AIDS pathogen) and herpes viruses. He sees his task as uncovering the basic processes involved in these pathogens in order to find new treatment strategies.

Kräusslich is speaker of the Collaborative Research Centre (Sonderforschungsbereich) 544 of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), which constitutes 20 research projects of scientists from Heidelberg in the field of “Control of Tropical Infectious Diseases”. His own research focuses on, amongst others, the assembly and maturation of HIV with the aim of developing novel therapeutics with antiviral properties. Kräusslich and his team have identified the so-called “capsid assembly inhibitor” (CAI), a peptide binding to “Gag Protein” which forms the envelope of the immature virus particles when these are released from the infected cell. The binding of CAI inhibits the extracellular modification and remodelling of the HIV envelope which is necessary for the infection of other cells by the virus.

In addition, as coordinator of the Excellence Cluster, director of the Marsilius Kolleg and as former coordinator of the University’s Excellence Initiative proposal, he has shaped the development of research at the University of Heidelberg.

Source: University of Heidelberg (EJ)
Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/press-release/hmls-prize-for-heidelberg-researchers