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1 December 1999

Erwin Schrödinger Prize for Dr. Jürgen Debus

For interdisciplinary work on cancer therapy with ion beams – PD Dr. Dr. Jürgen Debus one of three recipients of the prize (worth DM 100,000) – Innovative technique for destroying deep-lying tumours

On the occasion of its annual meeting, the Hermann von Hemholtz Society of German Research Centres has for the first time awarded its new Erwin Schrödinger Prize. The prize comes with DM 100,000 in research monies and has been initiated "as a token of the commitment of German industry to the progress of science," said Dr. Arend Oetker, President of the Founders' Association, in his laudatio. The prize was shared by three scientists, half of it going to Professor Dr. Gerhard Kraft of the Society for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt and the other half shared equally by Privatdozent Dr. Dr. Jürgen Debus of the Radiological Hospital of Heidelberg University and the German Cancer Research Centre and Dr. Wolfgang Enghardt of the Research Centre in Rossendorf.

The prize has been awarded in recognition of the outstanding contributions made by the recipients to the preparation, development and clinical application of cancer therapy by means of ion beams.

Ion beam therapy allows a more effective assault on locally restricted tumours hitherto totally or largely resistant to treatment. With this innovative approach deep-lying tumours can be destroyed without damaging the healthy tissue in their vicinity. (For a detailed description of the project see the next issue of Heidelberg University's research magazine "Ruperto Carola" 3/99 available in German from mid December by contacting e-mail address or phoning +49/6221/542310. The magazine is free of charge for journalists.)

Project an international front-runner

In the grounds for the prize jury's decision (chairperson: Prof. Dr. Karin Mölling of the University of Zurich) the collaborative project on ion beam therapy for cancer involving scientists from Darmstadt, Rossendorf and Heidelberg was described as an absolute front-runner at the international level. Nowhere else have the problems been tackled so comprehensively and systematically and with so many new ideas and methods stemming from such a wide array of medical scientists, physicists, radiologists and engineers.

In selecting a name to give to the prize, the awarding bodies finally decided to call it after the Austrian Nobel Prize laureate for physics Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961), who also left his mark on developments in biology. In his quest for the physical laws governing the phenomenon of life he was the first to propose the idea of a genetic code. That was in 1944, 10 years before this code was actually discovered. Schrödinger's versatility and creative ideas made a revolutionary and lasting impact on the life sciences.

Please address any inquiries to:
PD Dr. Dr. Jürgen Debus
phone: 06221/422516

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

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