Brenda Schulman receives the Leibniz Prize 2019

December 06, 2018

Brenda Schulman, head of the department „Molecular Machines and Signaling“ at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried receives the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2019. It comes with a funding of 2.5 million Euros. The Leibniz Prize honors her important work on the molecular mechanisms of the Ubiquitin System. „I am extremely honored to receive this award and I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the DFG and the selection committee“, says Schulman. The Leibniz-Prize will be awarded on March 13, 2019 in Berlin.

Brenda Schulman, PhD

Schulman’s work focuses on some of the most important molecular switches in cells. She studies how proteins, which are some of the major molecules controlling biological processes, can switch to carry out different cellular functions and how proteins get deactivated. The small molecule ubiquitin can induce these crucial activity changes by binding to a target protein. Ubiquitin may change the targeted protein’s stability, its cellular location, its enzyme activity or its interaction with other molecules. This is of fundamental importance, because dysregulation of the ubiquitin system is associated with cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, and infections.

Schulman received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA. After her PhD at M.I.T. in 1996, Cambridge, MA, USA, she was a postdoc at Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, MA, USA and at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA. In 2001, Schulman moved to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, USA. There she worked from 2005 to 2017 as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. In 2016, she became head of the department “Molecular Machines and Signaling“ at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. Since October 2018, she is honorary professor at the TU Munich. She received various awards, among them the USA Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences in the USA, and the European Molecular Biology Organization.

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2019 is awarded to a total of four female scientists and six male scientists, three of them working with the Max Planck Society. Schulman was chosen by a selection committee from 122 proposals. The prize money of 2.5 million euros can be used for up to seven years for her research work. Brenda Schulman is the fifth director of the institute to receive the Leibniz Prize, after F.-Ulrich Hartl (2002), Elena Conti (2008), Petra Schwille (2010) and Matthias Mann (2012).

About the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
The Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) belongs to the Max Planck Society, an independent, non-profit research organization dedicated to top level basic research. As one of the largest Institutes of the Max Planck Society, around 800 employees from 45 nations work here in the field of life sciences. In currently eight departments and about 25 research groups, the scientists contribute to the newest findings in the areas of biochemistry, cell biology, structural biology, biophysics and molecular science. The MPIB in Munich-Martinsried is part of the local life-science-campus where two Max Planck Institutes, a Helmholtz Center, the Gene-Center, several bio-medical faculties of two Munich universities and several biotech-companies are located in close proximity.

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