Bonn/München/Frankfurt, 23/11/2012. Prof. Thomas Misgeld from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) as well as the Technischen Universität München and Prof. Boris Schmidt, Technische Universität Darmstadt, have been awarded with the 2012 Hans and Ilse Breuer Foundation Alzheimer Research Award. The prize money totals 100,000 EUR and will be shared between the two scientists. The award ceremony took place on the 21st of November as part of the Eibsee Meeting “Cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration”. “We congratulate Thomas Misgeld for receiving this prestigious award“, notes Prof. Pierluigi Nicotera, Scientific Director and Chairman of the Executive Board of the DZNE.
Thomas Misgeld receives the award for his pioneering research on the construction and destruction of nerve connections in the brain. Neurons communicate with each other via very long prolongations, also known as axons. Prof. Misgeld studies this extremely complicated process in the living brain of model organisms. He has developed microscopy techniques that enable one to visualize the mitochondria, or the power plants of the cell, with the help of lasers. Moreover, his techniques allow him to observe the transport of these power plants along the long axons and to measure its speed exactly.
Already at an early stage, the award-winning scientist discovered that his findings are not only of great relevance for the normal healthy brain but also for many forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In these diseases, one malfunction happens when the transport of the power plants via the axons is retarded. This leads to a transport storage, which then causes death of the axons. Prof. Misgeld found that radicals initiate this process of axon death. Radicals are extremely reactive and highly toxic compounds. Misgeld showed that this process can be stopped with “free radical scavengers”. Moreover, he demonstrated that this process is reversible – both groundbreaking discoveries that are of great importance for therapeutic approaches to combat diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Thomas Misgeld studied medicine at the Technische Universität München. In 1999, he received his PhD at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried. Since 2009 he has been Professor of Biomolecular Sensors at the TU Munich and is a member of the Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM). He has received several major research awards, including the MS Wyeth Young Investigator Award, the Robert Feulgen Prize, the Sofya Kovalevskaya Prize and the Schilling Award. In September 2012, Thomas Misgeld joined the DZNE.
Dr. Dirk Förger
Head of Press and Public Relations
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases
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