Three prizes have recently been awarded to researchers for their outstanding achievements in the research of methods that help reduce the number of animal experiments conducted, contribute to elucidating cellular processes and improve patient treatment. This article features the three prizewinners and their achievements.
Lutz Claes, long-term director of the Institute of Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics at the University of Ulm, was awarded the State Research Prize for Alternative and Complementary Methods for Animal Testing of the Baden-Württemberg government. Claes received the prize, which comes with a purse of 12,500 euros, from the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Agriculture, Peter Hauk, for a numerical process enabling the simulation of bone healing processes. By integrating the available knowledge in a complex numerical model, this process helps reduce, or prevent altogether, those investigations involving live animals.
The different parameters involved in the healing of bone fractures can be simulated with computers, help improve the planning of experiments and considerably reduce the number of experimental animals used for such investigations. The second part of the prize was awarded to Lusine Danielyan, head of laboratory in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at the University Hospital in Tübingen, for her work entitled "Intranasal delivery of cells to the brain". The prize has been awarded annually since 2007. The evaluation commission comprises scientists, representatives of animal protection organisations and members of the State Advisory Board for Animal Protection.
Jörg Fahrer of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University in Ulm was awarded the Nycomed Prize in the field of biology in Constance. The scientist received the prize, which comes with a purse of 5,000 euros, for his "summa cum laude" doctoral thesis that dealt with poly(ADP-)ribose, a product of the cellular response to DNA damage and its interaction with specific binding proteins such as the tumour suppressor protein p53.
"The results obtained by Fahrer in his doctoral thesis represent a breakthrough in the biochemical characterisation of the interactions of poly(ADP-)ribose with binding proteins", said the commission in explaining their decision. Upon completion of his doctorate in 2008, Fahrer moved on to work in the research group of Holger Barth in Ulm.
The Nycomed Prize has been awarded annually since 1973 for outstanding doctoral theses of young Ph.D. students in the experimental natural sciences.
Frank Lehmann-Horn, Director of the Institute of Applied Physiology at the University of Ulm, was recently awarded the Art-of-Listening Award of the Genetic Alliance. The award honours the outstanding achievements in patient treatment. Genetic Alliance is an American umbrella organisation comprising approximately 100 patient self-aid groups, clinics and research institutions.
The prize honours Lehmann-Horn's achievements in the treatment of patients suffering from ion-channel related muscular diseases. Affected patients suffer from irregular intervals of muscle paralysis, which seem to occur without any reason and often disappear either partially or completely. These diseases are often wrongly diagnosed as conversion neuroses and the patients are usually sent to psychiatrists instead of neurologists.