2011

Proteins are the molecular building blocks and machinery of cells, and are involved in practically all biological processes. Matthias Mann, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried, is to receive the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2012 for his work on the development of mass spectrometry procedures for protein analysis. The award comes with a purse of €2.5 million and will be presented on 27 February 2012 in Berlin. more

Flies are real flight artists, although they only have small wings compared to their body size. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, recently identified the genetic switch that regulates the formation of flight muscles. “The gene spalt is essential for the generation of the ultrafast super muscles,” emphasizes Frank Schnorrer, head of the research group “Muscle Dynamics”. “Without spalt, the fly builds only normal leg muscles instead of flight muscles.” The scientists’ results have now been published in Nature. more

The European Molecular Biology Organisation EMBO stands for Europe-wide cutting-edge research in life sciences. EMBO supports young talented researchers in their career and systematically stimulates national and international scientific exchange. Now the organisation has acknowledged the outstanding research work of three scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB): Esben Lorentzen and Frank Schnorrer received the EMBO Young Investigator Award, Jürg Müller was elected as an EMBO member. more

Photosynthesis is one of the most important biological processes. However, it is less efficient in plants than it could be. Red algae, in contrast, use a slightly different mechanism and are thus more productive. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, have now identified a so far unknown helper protein for photosynthesis in red algae. “We could elucidate its structure and its intriguing mechanism,” says Manajit Hayer-Hartl, MPIB group leader. “Comparing its mechanism to the one in green plants could help to design more efficient plants.” Their work has led to two recent publications in Nature and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. more

What do neurodegenerative diseases such as Morbus Alzheimer, Chorea Huntington and Morbus Parkinson have in common? They all occur more and more frequently in an aging society, and wrongly folded, clumped proteins play a central role in disease development. Once that scientists have successfully decoded the molecular mechanisms underlying protein folding, new approaches for the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of these illnesses could emerge. The Heinrich Wieland Prize 2011 will be awarded to Prof. Franz-Ulrich Hartl, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried for his pioneering work in the field of protein folding. The award is sponsored by the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation and comes with a prize money of 50,000 Euros. more

Recently, Petra Schwille signed a contract as a Director at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany. The biophysicist is regarded as one of the internationally leading scientists in her field. In addition to her official duties at the MPI of Biochemistry, she will continue her teaching and research at the TU Dresden until April 2012. She will then move to Munich together with her husband and their three children, and take up her work at the MPI of Biochemistry. The new Research Department “Cellular and Molecular Biophysics” is going to investigate the interactions between different biomolecules inside the cell. more

Proteins are the cell’s molecular building material and machinery, and they are involved in nearly every bioprocess. Together with Arthur L. Horwich (Yale University, USA), Franz-Ulrich Hartl, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, will be awarded the 2011 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his research on protein folding. The prize comes with a shared $250,000 honorarium and will be awarded by the Lasker Foundation on September 23, 2011 in New York, USA. more

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