F. Ulrich Hartl is honored with HFSP Nakasone Award

F. Ulrich Hartl, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, together with his colleague Arthur L. Horwich, receives the HFSP Nakasone Prize 2022.

November 25, 2021

Biochemist F. Ulrich Hartl, together with his colleague and geneticist Arthur L. Horwich, discovered that nascent proteins often do not fold spontaneously into their functional form. Proteins which assist the folding process, known as chaperones, are needed for this process. Both researchers now receive the HFSP Nakasone Prize 2022 of the Human Frontier Science Program for this fundamental and far-reaching discovery. F. Ulrich Hartl: " I am very honored to receive this award together with my early collaborator Art Horwich and look forward to the prize ceremony in Paris." The award honors scientists for their groundbreaking discoveries in areas of the life sciences.

Many proteins need help to fold into their functional form. Helper proteins, known as chaperones, perform this task. This process of assisted folding was discovered by Prof. F. Ulrich Hartl, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, together with his colleague, the American Arthur L. Horwich from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Yale, USA. Hartl and his team have been investigating the structure and function of molecular chaperones ever since. Protein aggregations, which are associated with many neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's chorea, can be traced back to malfunctions of the chaperones, among other things. The detailed knowledge of molecular functions and malfunctions of the folding helpers should enable the development of new therapeutic approaches.

About F. Ulrich Hartl
F.-Ulrich Hartl was born in 1957. He studied Medicine at the University of Heidelberg, where he also obtained his doctoral degree. Hartl joined Walter Neupert’s research group at LMU as a postdoc and then became a group leader in Neupert’s department. A fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG) enabled him to undertake research at the University of California, Los Angeles. He did research as a Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator at the Sloan Kettering Institute and Cornell University in New York, USA. In 1997, the Max Planck Society succeeded in enticing the renowned scientist back to Germany. Since then, he has been Director and head of the Department of Cellular Biochemistry at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. Within the last years he was honored with multiple scientific prizes including 2002 the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, 2011 the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, 2012 the Shaw Prize together with Arthur Horwich, and 2016 the Albany Medical Center-Prize together with Horwich and Susan Lee Lindquist. In 2018, Hartl was inducted into the Hall of Fame of German Research, in 2019 he received the Dr. Paul Janssen Award and the Paul Ehrlich- and Ludwig Darmstaedter-Prize, and in 2020 he was awarded the Breakthrough Prize. 2021 he received the Bavarian Maximilan Order.


About the HFSP Nakasone Award
The HFSP Nakasone Award was established in Japan in 2019 to honor scientists who have made important breakthroughs in the cutting-edge fields of life sciences. It honors the vision of former Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone in establishing the international science funding organization. Award winners receive a USD 10,000 unrestricted research grant, a medal and a personalized certificate. The award ceremony will take place at the annual HFSP Broadcaster Meeting, where the awardee will give the HFSP Nakasone Lecture.

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