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Berlin Science Award for Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky of MDC

Systems biologist Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch in Germany has been named recipient of the Science Award of the Governing Mayor of Berlin in recognition of his "outstanding research achievements, the implementation of which can contribute to solutions for problems relevant to science and society".

The award is endowed with 40 000 euros and goes to the MDC, the institution where the research was carried out. The Young Scientist Award went to Dr. Vera Beyer, Free University of Berlin. Both awards were presented during the opening ceremony of Science Year 2010 in the Berlin Concert House.

Nikolaus Rajewsky is Professor of systems biology at the MDC and the Charité in Berlin-Buch, and head of the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) of the MDC. Since 2008, he is also a Global Distinguished Professor of Biology at New York University.

His current research focus, systems biology, combines a wide spectrum of disciplines such as molecular biology, biochemistry, mathematics and physics. Systems biology investigates biological processes and their interaction in cells, tissues and organisms on the basis of experimental as well as statistical and mathematical approaches with the aim of understanding and predicting life's complex processes in quantitative terms.

In this context Professor Rajewsky is investigating the function of microRNAs, small molecules that are composed of ribonucleic acid (RNA). He has been able to show that a single microRNA can control the formation of hundreds of different proteins and has thus confirmed that microRNAs regulate almost all important life processes in cells and organisms.

For this reason, microRNAs are also of great importance for biomedical research, since with their help disease-specific processes can be elucidated and potentially treated in the future.

Professor Rajewsky has also made important contributions regarding the function of microRNAs for metabolism, the immune system and embryonic development. In 2009 alone, his works were cited over 1,300 times in international journals - which in the scientific community indicates research of fundamental importance and highest quality.

Close cooperation with universities and non-university institutions in Berlin
The BIMSB of the MDC is supported with around 12 million euros start-up funding (2008-2010) by the German Federal Ministry of Research and the Berlin Senate.

It will be expanded in the coming years and relocated to a new building on the new 'Life Science Campus' of Humboldt University (HU) in central Berlin, and will collaborate closely with the university- and non-university institutions in Berlin.

Cooperation partners of the BIMSB are - aside from the Charité - the HU, the Free University (FU) and the Technical University (TU), the Leibniz Institute of Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) in Berlin-Buch, the MATHEON, the German Rheumatism Research Center as well as institutes of the Max Planck Society and the Helmholtz Association.

Furthermore, in close collaboration with New York University, the BIMSB has created an international joint education and training program for PhD students. This collaboration strengthens modern interdisciplinary scientific training as well as health research and biotechnology in Berlin and complement existing capacities.

The Science Award of the Governing Mayor of Berlin was awarded for the first time in 2008 and went to the mathematician Professor Martin Grötschel of the TU Berlin and the Zuse Institute Berlin (ZIB).

Barbara Bachtler
Press and Public Affairs
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10; 13125 Berlin; Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33

Barbara Bachtler | idw
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