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8 December 2000

Leibniz Prizes for Two Members of the University of Heidelberg

Prof. Dr. Eduard C. Hurt of the Biochemistry Centre Heidelberg receives 3 million marks, Prof. Dr. Christoph Markschies of the Department of Theology 1.5 million — Rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke: "For two members of this University to be receiving Germany's most highly endowed research award at the same time is a very special and gratifying honour."

The German Research Council announced today that two members of the University of Heidelberg will be receiving one of the coveted and prestigious Leibniz Prize awards for 2001. Prof. Dr. Eduard C. Hurt of the Biochemistry Centre has been assigned 3 million marks research monies, Prof. Dr. Christoph Markschies of the Department of Theology 1.5 million. One of the first to congratulate the two recipients was Heidelberg's rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke. "For two members of this University to be receiving Germany's most highly endowed research award at the same time is a very special and gratifying honour," he said, adding that the two professors "have very remarkable achievements to their name and have done much to consolidate the University of Heidelberg's outstanding position in the research landscape." The fact that the two recipients come from such different disciplines as molecular biology and theology "shows the range of academic and scientific research being done at this University," Siebke concluded.

Prof. Hurt

Molecular biologist Prof. Dr. Eduard C. Hurt of the BZH Biochemistry Centre of the University of Heidelberg is 45 years old. After studying biology and chemistry and obtaining his doctorate at the University of Regensburg, Eduard C. Hurt spent a number of years at Jeff Schatz' research lab in Basel. At the early age of 31 he became research group leader at Heidelberg's European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL) in 1986. He has been a C-4 professor at the University of Heidelberg since 1995.

Prof. Hurt an internationally renowned figure

Eduard C. Hurt's work has done much to improve our understanding of molecular life processes in cells, concentrating primarily on the structure and function of such organelles as chloroplasts and mitochondria. A further major concern of his has been explaining the development of the cell nucleus with special reference to its pores, which are constituted of more than 40 different proteins. So far, Hurt's group has managed to identify about half of those proteins and describe their functions. This has assured him outstanding international renown in the field of molecular biology.

Prof. Markschies and the history of the church

Prof. Markschies

Church historian Prof. Dr. Christoph Markschies of he Department of Theology is 38 years old. He studied Protestant theology, classics and philosophy in Marburg, Jerusalem, Munich and Tübingen. After his doctorate (1991) and Habilitation (1994), both in Tübingen, he was appointed professor of church history at the University of Jena. In the last two years he was Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin and at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. He has recently taken up a professorship of church history in Heidelberg.

Christoph Markschies' central concern is church history. Central to his wide-ranging interests in this area are studies on the structural history of Christianity in the ancient world. His research perspective is remarkable for the way in which it views Christendom in terms of the rival pulls exerted on it by Judaism and the Greek world on the one hand and East and West on the other. The relations between eastern and western Christianity are a crucial factor in his engagement with Ambrosius of Milan and his trinitarian theology, affording a new perspective on this church father and his theological persuasions. Markschies is involved in the Jena postgraduate research programme on "Lead Figures in Late Antiquity" and in the German Research Council's collaborative project on "Roman Imperial Religion and Provincial Religion". He is the initiator of the Hans Lietzmann Lectures in Jena and project leader of the long-term research enterprise on "Greek Christian Writers" of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy.

Laureates designated by German Research Council Central Committee

Today, the Central Committee of the German Research Council announced the laureates of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Programme for 2001. Eleven scholars and scientists were selected to receive research monies for a period of five years.

The Leibniz Programme was set up in 1985 with the aim of improving work and research conditions for scholars and scientists of especial note, extending the scope of their activities and freeing them from administrative duties. It also enables them to enlist the support of highly qualified budding scholars and scientists of the upcoming generation. The use of the prize monies is placed very largely at the discretion of the recipients.

Of the many nominations sent in, the Research Council selection committee gives priority to those candidates where it anticipates that additional support will lead to a notable enhancement of research excellence. This is the 16th time the German Research Council has made these awards. The funds come from special resources earmarked for the purpose by Germany's Federal and State governments. This year's laureates were selected from a total of 130 proposals presented by institutions of higher education, the Max Planck Society and former recipients of the Prize.

Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Eduard C. Hurt
phone: 06221/544173, fax: 544369

Prof. Hurt is a contributor to the University of Heidelberg's research magazine "Ruperto Carola". You can find his article "Rush Hour in the Cell Nucleus" (in German) at

Prof. Dr. Christoph Markschies
phone: 06221/543303, fax: 543623

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 11.12.2000


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