Konrad Beyreuther Awarded with Hartwig Piepenbrock-DZNE Prize
2 September 2011
Distinction for outstanding scientific contributions to the understanding of Alzheimer's disease
The first "Hartwig Piepenbrock-DZNE Prize" for outstanding research in the field of neurodegenerative diseases will be awarded to the renowned Alzheimer researcher Prof. Dr. Konrad Beyreuther, Heidelberg University. The award honors Prof. Beyreuther for the discovery of the nature of the amyloid protein, the key component of plaques found in brains of individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The prize, endowed with 60,000 Euros, is donated by the Piepenbrock Group and recognizes outstanding scientific contributions towards the understanding, prevention and cure of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The award is decided by an international scientific committee coordinated by the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), a research center in the Helmholtz Association.
The award ceremony will take place at the scientific conference on "Ageing and Neurodegeneration"(Schloss Bensberg, Bergisch Gladbach). The guests will be welcomed by Olaf Piepenbrock, CEO and Chairman of Piepenbrock Group. Prof. Dr. Dr. Pierluigi Nicotera, Scientific Director of the DZNE, will give a tribute speech, the prize will be awarded by benefactress Maria-Theresia Piepenbrock.
A key feature of Alzheimer's disease is the formation of protein deposits in the brains of patients associated with progressive neuronal cell damage and eventually cell death. In the 1980’s – almost 80 years after the German physician Alois Alzheimer discovered these so called "Alzheimer plaques" – Konrad Beyreuther successfully identified their biochemical composition. This groundbreaking discovery marked the beginning of the molecular study of Alzheimer's disease, a hitherto entirely obscure disorder. In the decades to follow, Prof. Beyreuther has continued his work to elucidate the causes of Alzheimer's disease. He and his colleagues were able to identify how the protein deposits arise and how this process could be inhibited in laboratory models. There is as yet no cure for Alzheimer's disease. But there is well-founded hope that recent research progress will lead to the development of effective new therapies within the next 10-15 years – and to this, Prof. Beyreuther has contributed significantly.
Konrad Beyreuther received his Ph.D. in 1968 at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Munich. From 1968 to 1987 he performed his research work at the Institute of Genetics at the Albertus Magnus University of Cologne, and became professor in 1980. From 1987 to 2007 Prof. Beyreuther was professor at the Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie der Universität Heidelberg (ZMBH) and since 2006 he has led the Network Aging Research at Heidelberg University. Prof. Beyreuther has received several awards for his research on the molecular understanding of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, he served as a member of the Baden-Wuerttemberg state government in the role of State Councillor for the Protection of Life and Health, from 2001 to 2006.