Lautenschläger Research Prize for Prof. Dr. Joachim Wittbrodt
14 June 2011
The 2011 Lautenschläger Research Prize endowed with 250,000 euros has been awarded to Prof. Dr. Joachim Wittbrodt, developmental biologist at Heidelberg University. Dr. h.c. Manfred Lautenschläger, donor of the prize and honorary senator of the University, refers to Joachim Wittbrodt as “one of the world’s outstanding researchers, equally notable for scientific excellence and originality”. His research work focuses on the development of the eyes in vertebrates and the function of stem cells. The award of Germany’s most generously endowed research prize, given by a private donor, will be held on 1 July 2011 in Heidelberg. The keynote lecture will be delivered by Heidelberg medical scientist and Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Dr. Harald zur Hausen.
The Lautenschläger Research Prize is awarded every two years in recognition of outstanding research achievements. The distinction is aimed at scientists and scholars working at Heidelberg University or international academics with an especially remarkable record of collaboration with the University. Entrepreneur Manfred Lautenschläger first donated the Prize in 2001 to support the work of outstanding scholars and scientists actively engaged in innovative research. An interdisciplinary awards committee, comprising of internationally affiliated academics, selects the prize receivers. Candidates from all research disciplines can be nominated for the prize.
Joachim Wittbrodt (born 1961) studied biology at Munich University. He did his doctorate at the Gene Centre in Munich, moving on from there to the Biozentrum of Basel University. As a young scientist and group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen (1995-1998), he developed molecular and cell-biological tools that were later instrumental in spectacular research work done at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). After his habilitation at Braunschweig Technical University, Joachim Wittbrodt joined EMBL in 1999. Since 2007 he has been pursuing his research interests in Heidelberg and Karlsruhe. At the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology he is the director of the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics, at Heidelberg University he was appointed professor at the Institute of Zoology. In 2010, the Institutes of Zoology and Plant Sciences merged to become the Centre of Organismal Studes (COS) with Joachim Wittbrodt as founding director. Prof. Wittbrodt is coordinator of the Heidelberg Collaborative Research Centre “Molecular and Cellular Bases of Neural Development” as well as member of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Neurosciences and researcher at Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence “CellNetworks”.
In his research work, Prof. Wittbrodt combines and collates issues ranging from early embryonic development to the regeneration of eye structures. Using the Medaka fish as a model organism, he has identified genes directly connected to the formation of the eye. In the process, he discovered that cells in the embryo are programmed for eye formation at an early stage and then migrate to their differentiation site. His research findings on the formation of organs prove the importance of migrant stem cells. For his investigations on living cells, Prof. Wittbrodt combines new technological developments with knowledge from different sectors of cellular and developmental biology, molecular biology, genomics and modelling to create advanced concepts in systemic biology. In the past, Joachim Wittbrodt has received further renowned awards and distinctions for his work.
Presentation Ceremony for the Lautenschläger Research Prize 2011
The ceremony begins with a welcome speech delivered by the Rector of Heidelberg University, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, followed by a talk from Prof. Dr. Eva Grebel, recipient of the Lautenschläger Research Prize in 2009. In his keynote lecture, Prof. zur Hausen will be discussing “Cancer Prevention via Inoculation”. Afterwards Harald zur Hausen and Manfred Lautenschläger will present the prize. During the “Science Talk”, the prize winner and Prof. Dr. Thomas Holstein, dean of the Faculty of Biosciences, will answer questions put to them by Jan-Martin Wiarda, sectional editor of the weekly newspaper „Die Zeit“. The ceremony closes with a speech from the donor of the prize addressed to the invited guests. The Lautenschläger Research Prize presentation ceremony takes place at 6 pm on Friday, 1 July 2011 in the Great Hall of the Old University in Heidelberg.
Note for newsdesks
Digital picture material is available from the Press Office.
Communications and Marketing
phone: +49 6221 542311