Four scientists receive the Dortmund Biomedicine Prize 2022

March 9, 2023

Yesterday, the Association for the Promotion of Biomedical and Clinical Research awarded four scientists in three categories. The award was given for scientifically outstanding work in the field of biomedical research that was carried out in Dortmund or in cooperation with a Dortmund institution.

In the Basic Research category, the prize went to Wout Oosterheert (MPI of Molecular Physiology). In the Clinical Research category, Ákos Bicsák (Klinikum Dortmund) was awarded. Lena Quambusch (TU Dortmund) and Patrick Nell (Leibniz Research Centre for Working environments and Human Factors – IfADo) received the prize in the Young Researcher category.

This year’s winners Dr Patrick Nell (l.), Dr Wout Oosterheert (second l.) and Dr Dr Ákos Bicsák (r.) together with Prof Dr Klaus Gerwert (second r.). Photo: IfADo

Basic Research

Actin filaments are protein fibers that make up the internal skeleton of the cell. As active elements of our cells, actin filaments support the cell’s fusion, movement and are involved in many other cellular processes. Using electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM), Wout Oosterheert and his colleagues have visualized actin filament structures in unprecedented detail. The structures reveal how individual water molecules that are bound to the actin filament position themselves and react with ATP – the cell’s energy source.

Clinical Research

Ákos Bicsák developed the concept and workflows in the Maxillofacial Trauma Centre of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Klinikum Dortmund. Such detailed and long-term analyses of the care of maxillofacial trauma are rare. They provide starting points for further optimisation of clinical care.

Young Researcher

In her work, Lena Quambusch succeeded in producing selective ligands for decoding cancer-relevant proteins. Using structure-based design, it was possible to develop covalent-allosteric inhibitors that selectively switch off the isoforms of the protein kinase Akt. These chemical tools make it possible to understand the biology and role of the proteins more thoroughly within diseases and thus uncover new therapeutic approaches.

Stem cell-derived hepatocytes are widely recognized as a promising tool to overcome the shortage in donor material for research and therapy, yet major differences to human donor hepatocytes represent a current challenge. Patrick Nell and his team found that stem cell-derived ‘hepatocytes’ are hybrid cells with characteristics of liver and gut cells. The researchers identified gene networks involved in this hybrid state and showed that targeted manipulation of the FXR-regulated gene network can improve stem cell-derived hepatocytes.

Association for the Promotion of Biomedical and Clinical Research e. V.

Supporting and promoting the connection between basic research and clinical-practical application – this is what the Association for the Promotion of Biomedical and Clinical Research e.V. from Dortmund has been working on for many years. “We want to build a bridge from the laboratory to the patients in the clinic and thus promote the transfer of research results into clinical application,” explain the chairmen Prof. Dr. Hermann Kalhoff (Clinic for Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Klinikum Dortmund) and Prof. Dr. Jan Hengstler (Leibniz Research Centre for Working environments and Human Factors – IfADo).  “The number and quality of the papers show that many institutions in Dortmund and the surrounding area provide research and medical care at the highest level – for the benefit of the general public.”  The Biomedicine Award will again be given in 2023 for excellent research work with a bridging function.

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