A German biochemist wins this year’s Debrecen Award

The molecular causes of the onset of Alzheimer's and Huntington diseases is the research topic of this year’s winner of the “Debrecen Award for Molecular Medicine,” Franz-Ulrich Hartl. The memorial plaque was presented to Professor Hartl at the University of Debrecen on 13 December.

The international scientific recognition has been awarded for 15 years to researchers recognized for their outstanding work in the field of life sciences whose results can also be applied in the near future in medicine.

“The foundation of the award in 2003 was a pioneering act also in a wider, Hungarian context, and even today it remains a major scientific recognition in Hungary, and can also be regarded as the most prestigious one given by the University of Debrecen,” emphasised László Csernoch at the press conference on Wednesday before the presentation ceremony.

The vice-rector of the university called the award special, as it introduces the University of Debrecen not only to the narrower scientific community, but also connects it with the international scientific world.

“The Faculty of General Medicine has always devoted much attention to research in the field of molecular medicine, and particularly to results that can be put to practical application for the benefit of the patients,” underlined László Mátyus, dean, who added that the award has gained much international recognition over the past 15 years. One of the scientists chosen from the field of molecular medicine for recognition of his scientific achievement by the award also received a Nobel Prize subsequent to the Debrecen Award.

As László Mátyus put it, the “Debrecen Award for Molecular Medicine” enhances the international reputation of the university and its medical school also.

“The awardee is selected each year from the nominees by secret ballot with the participation of almost one hundred professors from the Faculty of General Medicine.” The procedure for the award has been unchanged for 15 years, which is indispensable for the award to be present as a stable and valuable one in the international scientific community”, said László Fésüs, professor emeritus of the University of Debrecen and one of the founders of the award in 2003.

The memorial plaque was presented this year to Professor Franz-Ulrich Hartl, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany.

As Zoltán Papp, vice-dean for scientific affairs at the Faculty of General Medicine, said in his speech, the scientific results of Franz-Ulrich Hartl are recognized worldwide. In the course of its research he has shown that disorder in the spatial structure of proteins may lead to their precipitation, and it may have a role in the formation of neorodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer's, and may even be important from the point of view of ageing.

The scientist received his medical degree at the University of Heidelberg in 1982, then continued to work in university research laboratories in Heidelberg and Munich, as well as pursued postdoctoral studies in the United States of America. After receiving the award, Professor Hartl gave his inaugural lecture in the course of which he presented the results of his research.

Press Office