Roger de Spoelberch Prize for Magdalena Götz

Jacques Brotchi, the president of the foundation’s science committee, particularly emphasized Götz’s excellent work in the developmental biology of neurons in the cortex. In particular, the work led to significant findings in neurobiology, namely possibilities to replace such nerve cells and an approach to reprogram glial into nerve cells.

Magdalena Götz is Director of the Institute of Stem Cell Research (ISF) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and Chair for Physiological Genomics at the LMU Biomedical Center. Just recently she and her team were able to show in an experimental model that transplanted embryonic nerve cells were able to grow into full members of an existing neural network and consequently completely take over the assignments in their new position.

Last year the neuroscientists made a breakthrough in direct neuronal reprogramming: In an experimental model they were able to reprogram more than 90% of the treated glial cells into neurons.

A research group headed by Magdalena Götz was furthermore able to identify epigenetic mechanisms that, in the early phases of nerve development, lead to subsequent death of the neural cells.

The Roger de Spoelberch Prize is award each year by the foundation of the same name that has its headquarters in Geneva. The target groups are outstanding researchers who have advanced clinical and basic scientific research in the field of neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders. The namesake (1875-1950) came from a Belgian noble family that still exists today.

Further Information

The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich and has about 2,300 staff members. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members.

The Institute of Stem Cell Research (ISF) investigates the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms of stem cell maintenance and differentiation. From that, the ISF then develops approaches in order to replace defect cell types, either by activating resting stem cells or by re-programming other existing cell types to repair themselves. The aim of these approaches is to stimulate the regrowth of damaged, pathologically changed or destroyed tissue.

As one of Europe’s leading research universities, LMU Munich is committed to the highest international standards of excellence in research and teaching. Building on its 500-year-tradition of scholarship, LMU covers a broad spectrum of disciplines, ranging from the humanities and cultural studies through law, economics and social studies to medicine and the sciences. 15 percent of LMU‘s 50,000 students come from abroad, originating from 130 countries worldwide. The know-how and creativity of LMU’s academics form the foundation of the University’s outstanding research record. This is also reflected in LMU‘s designation of as a „university of excellence“ in the context of the Excellence Initiative, a nationwide competition to promote top-level university research.

Contact for the media:
Department of Communication, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Tel. +49 89 3187 2238 – Fax: +49 89 3187 3324 – E-mail:

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