The Louis-Jeantet Foundation grants the sum of CHF 700’000 for each of the 2011 prizes, of which CHF 600’000 is for the continuation of the prize-winners’ work and CHF 100’000 for their personal use.
The Prize-Winners are conducting fundamental biological research which is expected to be of considerable significance for medicine.
Stefan Jentsch is awarded one of the 2011 Louis-Jeantet Prizes for Medicine for his work on small protein modifiers and their role in DNA repair. The German researcher pioneered studies on protein modifications by ubiquitin and related proteins. Modification of proteins by ubiquitin usually targets the proteins for degradation. However, Stefan Jentsch’s research revealed that ubiquitin plays also a crucial role in genome maintenance and DNA repair. This research has significant medical importance as damaged DNA can cause various diseases, notably cancer. Stefan Jentsch will use the prize money to continue his research on ubiquitin and related proteins. He is also planning to study the mechanisms that allow damaged chromosomes to be repaired.
Edvard and May-Britt Moser will share the other 2011 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for their discovery of “grid cells” in the brain. These neurons have a specific function as regards spatial representation, and allow mammals to know precisely their spatial location and to move from one place to another. For ten years the two Norwegian researchers have been studying how the brain builds a spatial map that allows rats – and probably other mammals including humans – to know their spatial location. In the entorhinal cortex of rodents they have notably discovered specific neurons named “grid cells” that are associate with this activity, suggesting this part of the brain is a crossroads of the cerebral network that enables mammals to find their way. Edvard and May-Britt Moser will use the prize money to continue their research on “grid cells” in order to better understand how they interact with other cells of the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus also contributing to spatial navigation and memory.
The award ceremony will be held in Geneva (Switzerland) on Thursday, 14 April 2011.