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Awards in medicine The Jung Foundation for Science and Research announces the 2013 award winners

€ 540,000 for outstanding achievements on the way to new treatments

Hamburg, 8 January 2013. The Jung Foundation for Science and Research of Hamburg is announcing the new winners of its prestigious awards for cutting-edge medicine to the public today. The time-honoured Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, worth € 300,000, is being awarded in equal portions to Professor Angelika Amon (46 years) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor Ivan Đikić, MD, PhD, (46 years) of the Goethe University in Frankfurt. The scientific life's work of Professor Sir Salvador Moncada, MD, PhD, (68 years) who until recently directed the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London is being honoured with the Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine. The Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award for Medical Research, worth € 210,000, goes out to Dr. Anita Kremer (32 years), resident physician at Erlangen University Hospital.

The Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine and the Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award for Medical Research serve to promote groundbreaking medical research which opens up new possibilities for treatment. Its worth of € 300,000 makes the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine one of Europe’s most highly valued medical awards. Since 1967 it supports ongoing research projects by outstanding scientists. The Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award is also one of Europe’s leading medical prizes in its category. Since 2006 it enables annually one highly qualified emerging German medical professional abroad to return to Germany as an academic location and continue his or her research work here, or to conduct more intensive research in Germany. Since 1990 the Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine honours lifetime medical achievements which have largely been completed and which have already made a major contribution to medical progress. Together with the symbolic medals of honour, the medal winners are given control over a scholarship amounting to € 30,000 this year, which they may award to an aspiring scientist of their choice.

 

Research improves therapy

‘The foundation’s work is intended to support human medicine on the way to becoming an ever more humane medicine – that is the main idea behind the foundation,’ says Rolf Kirchfeld, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. For that reason, the Jung Foundation for Science and Research promotes basic research in human medicine as well as further research of clinical importance which builds upon it. These are research projects which can be expected to develop new possibilities in treatment or improve existing ones on the long term and which will one day help cure diseases or ease suffering. Each year, the Foundation also honours one lifetime achievement which has already yielded such a great benefit and led to important innovations in treatment. The internationally active Foundation uses its Career Advancement Award to counteract the ‘brain drain’ which has afflicted Germany as a location for science and prevent top scientists from emigrating abroad.

 

Ernst Jung: A philanthropist from Hamburg

The Jung Foundation for Science and Research was launched in 1967 and focused exclusively on promoting the human medicine sector as of 1976. It was founded by Hamburg ship owner, businessman and philanthropist Ernst Jung (1896 – 1976). 8 January 2013 marks the 37th anniversary of his death. The new award winners are announced on this date each year in memorial of this altruistic and magnanimous benefactor.

The award ceremony will then be held on 3 May 2013 in Auditorium Maximum of the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg.

Further information on the Foundation, awards and prize winners can be found online at www.jung-stiftung.de.

 

The great importance of tiny deviations

On the way from chromosome research to fighting cancer

The winner of the 2013 Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, Professor Angelika Amon, holds the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Chair for Cancer Research at Howard Hughes Medical Institute of the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Born in 1967 in Vienna, the Austrian-American scientist has devoted her research to the problem of aneuploidy. This term describes a gene mutation in which there are too many or few individual chromosomes in addition to a normal chromosome set. Assuming the consequences are not already fatal, both cases can cause detriments to the health of the severest nature: mental disability, miscarriages and even cancer.

Professor Amon is receiving the prize for her groundbreaking investigations of correct and improper chromosome segregation and, in turn, the mechanisms which lead to such consequences, above all tumours. Knowledge of the regulatory circuits is the key to understanding abnormal cell division processes which are characteristic of cancer. Thanks to Professor Amon’s research, the discovery of new possibilities in tumour treatment can be expected on the long term.

 

Can something which is everywhere also be useful everywhere?

Research on the ubiquitin signal pathway identify new modes of attack for medications

Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine 2013 winner Professor Ivan Đikić, MD PhD, is professor of biochemistry and director of the Institute for Biochemistry II at the Faculty of Medicine at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and director of the Molecular Signalling work group. He is also director of the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS). Born in 1966 in Zagreb, Croatia, the scientist has focused on the signal pathway of the marker peptide ubiquitin. ‘Ubiquitous’ means ‘omnipresent,’ and ubiquitin is in fact present in all nucleated cells of living organisms; it is of the utmost importance in cell biology.

With his groundbreaking work on the ubiquitin signal pathway, Professor Đikić has succeeded not only in gaining new insights into fundamental cellular mechanisms and into the molecular cause of a great many diseases, but also in identifying new target proteins for the development of new medicines. The Jung Foundation for Science and Research is presenting him with the 2013 Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine for his research on ‘clarifying the function of ubiquitin modifications central control signals in cellular processes.’

 

From T lymphocytes to tumour treatment

Dr. Anita Kremer researches the ‘deployment’ of cellular defences

‘Intracellular Antigen Processing as a Key to Specific Cellular Tumour Treatment’ is the title of the research project of Dr. Anita Kremer, who is being presented the Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award for Medical Research in 2013. Three annual sums of € 70,000 each will aid the resident physician, born in Munich in 1980, in her research work at Erlangen University Hospital Medical Department 5 – Haematology and Internal Oncology. She has dedicated her research to the possibilities of obtaining specific T lymphocytes for targeted tumour treatment on the cellular level.

Tlymphocytes are the most important defensive cells in the human body and may become physicians’ strongest ‘allies’ in tumour treatment. But there is a central problem to solve in the treatment of leukaemia: T lymphocytes from bone marrow donors should only recognise malignant cells in patients as being foreign and destroy them, without perceiving the recipient’s healthy tissue as being foreign as well and attacking it. Dr. Kremer has already succeeded in analysing intracellular processing sequences to identify a subgroup of T lymphocyte which may potentially be used to specifically eliminate leukaemia cells. She worked at the Leiden University Medical Centre Institute for Haematology in the Netherlands from autumn 2007 to the end of 2011. Thanks to the Career Advancement Award, Dr. Kremer will now be able to continue her important research project in Germany.


Live-saving basic research

Professor Sir Salvador Moncada has made medical history

The fact that patients with cardiovascular diseases, especially coronary diseases, can be helped by acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) can largely be attributed to research conducted by Professor Sir Salvador Moncada. Born in 1944 in Honduras, he was part of the team that discovered, in London in the 1970s, how aspirin-like drugs produce their pain relieving, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effect. His subsequent research in the prostaglandin field resulted in the discovery of the enzyme thromboxane synthase and of the vasodilator prostacyclin, enabling scientists to predict the action of low doses of aspirin in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Professor Moncada was also the first to establish that nitric oxide is generated by the vasculature and to identify its vasodilator and blood-pressure-reducing properties. This explained the successful use of nitrates in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

He has made major contributions to other areas in modern medical research. His research is of international significance and in the 1990s he was the most-cited British biomedical scientist. In 2010, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his contribution to science. He is receiving the Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine for his groundbreaking work on arachidonic acid metabolism and prostaglandins, the clarification of aspirin’s mechanism of action and for his work on the identification of nitric oxide as a mediator and discovery of its biological actions.