Outstanding research by scholars honored
The developmental biologist Prof. Dr. Elvira Mass and the pediatrician Dr. Daniel Kotlarz were awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize by the German Research Council for their scientific achievements. The two researchers are being promoted as part of the scholarship program of the Daimler and Benz Foundation, which reinforces the professional careers of junior professors and postdoctoral researchers.
The research carried out by Elvira Mass from the Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) of the University of Bonn focuses on the development and function of cells of the innate immune system known as macrophages. She was awarded the prize for her investigation of the molecular basis for the role of tissue macrophages in the formation of organs during embryonic development. Her research has made a significant contribution toward an understanding of diseases such as osteopetrosis, in which an accumulation of bone substance occurs. Mass also demonstrated that macrophages can cause degenerative diseases of the nervous system.
Daniel Kotlarz from the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich received the prize for his investigation of rare genetic defects in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases encountered in early childhood. He analyzed genetic signatures which lead to these illnesses as a result of immune regulatory disorders and identified a large number of genetic deficiencies in molecules of the immune system. On the basis of Kotlarz’s research it was deduced for the first time that individual genes, and not only complex gene combinations, can trigger these bowel disorders. This will allow specific and personalized therapies to be devised in the future.