Professor Dr. Mathias Jucker of the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen won the 2013 Hamburg Science Award. The Academy of Sciences and Humanties in Hamburg made the award in recognition of his research on cellular and molecular mechanisms that are responsible for aging of the brain and the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. The award worth €100,000 in cash, is sponsored by the Hamburgische Stiftung für Wissenschaften, Entwicklung und Kultur Helmut und Hannelore Greve (Hamburg Foundation for Science, Development, and Culture Helmut and Hannelore Greve). The award ceremony was held on 22 November 2013 in Hamburg’s City Hall under the aegis of Olaf Scholz, Lord Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
Neurobiologist Mathias Jucker is one of the leading international representatives of experimental dementia research in Germany. He and his team have succeeded in achieving trailblazing research results on the fundamental mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s. They include the important discovery that the misfolding of A-beta proteins in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer’s is triggered by a prion-like mechanism. The mouse models developed by Jucker are not only used in basic research all over the world but also reflect clinically relevant parameters of Alzheimer’s Disease, as Jucker’s latest research findings have shown.
Jucker has lately been working on early diagnosis of different sub-forms of Alzheimer’s. In the process the first misfolded A-beta proteins in the brain are to be detected and investigated. “Jucker’s investigations and observations are not only of great neurobiological interest but also of considerable clinical importance,” said the president of the Academy of Sciences and Humanties in Hamburg and chair of the seven-member Hamburg Science Award jury Prof. Dr. Heimo Reinitzer. “They also offer grounds for hope that his research approach will be the right way to develop preventive measures to combat Alzheimer’s. The prize money will go toward supporting these important research projects.”
Mathias Jucker is a board member at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen. He studied neurobiology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, where he took his PhD in 1988. He then worked as a postdoc and later as a group leader at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland, before going to the University of Basle as a junior professor (and START scholarship holder). In 2003 he was appointed to his current professorship in Tübingen. He is head of the department of the Cell Biology of Neurological Diseases and spokesman for the Graduate School of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience in Tübingen. Since 2009 Jucker has also conducted research at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Tübingen. In addition he is the spokesman for the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN), also in Tübingen.
The 2013 Hamburg Science Award was granted for work on dementia research. The subject was chosen in order to focus more attention on dementia research in Germany in all its aspects and to continue funding research on the subject. For many forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, the causes and mechanisms have yet to be clarified.
The international jury chaired by Prof. Dr. Heimo Reinitzer, president of the academy at the time, received a total of 16 nominations. They were submitted by universities, research institutes and scientific bodies from all over Germany and Austria.