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Lasker Award: High Honour for Ralf Bartenschlager

13 September 2016

Heidelberg virologist to receive unofficial US Nobel Prize for Medicine

Prof. Dr. Ralf Bartenschlager
Prof. Dr. Ralf Bartenschlager

Heidelberg virologist Prof. Dr Ralf Bartenschlager is well known for his research on the hepatitis C virus. And this is why he has been selected for the 2016 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. The New York-based Lasker Foundation wishes to recognise his investigations into the multiplication of the virus in cell cultures, which have led to ground-breaking new approaches in the treatment of chronic liver infections. The award, endowed with USD 250,000, is the highest medical honour that can be bestowed in the United States and is unofficially termed the US Nobel Prize. Prof. Bartenschlager does research at the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University, at the University Hospital and at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ).

In his research, Prof. Bartenschlager has tackled the challenge that the hepatitis C virus does not multiply in cell cultures and has therefore not been a candidate for the molecular analysis of virus multiplication. The Heidelberg scientist’s pioneering achievement was, first, to develop a reproduceable cell culture system on the basis of a minigenome and then a complete multiplication system for this virus in cell cultures. His discoveries regarding the molecular properties and multiplication cycle of the hepatitis C virus have given new impetus to this research field and laid the foundation stone for the development of new medicines.

In 2002 Ralf Bartenschlager was appointed to a professorship endowed by the Chica and Heinz Schaller Foundation at the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University. At the University Hospital he is head of the Molecular Virology department. In parallel he has directed the Virus-associated Carcinogeneseis department at the DKFZ since 2014. Prof. Bartenschlager also does research in the CellNetworks cluster of excellence at Heidelberg University. He will receive the Lasker Award jointly with Prof. Dr. Charles M. Rice of New York’s Rockefeller University and Dr. Michael J. Sofia from Arbutus Biopharma.

Ralf Bartenschlager was awarded the Robert Koch Award in 2015 for hepatitis C research, also jointly with Charles M. Rice. In 2013 Bartenschlager received the Lautenschläger Research Prize, the best endowed award for research from a private sponsor in Germany. The Lasker Award, that is given in three categories, will be presented on 23 September in New York.


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