Biochemist and protein crystallographer Dr. Oliver Daumke of the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, has won the “Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award 2010” in the biology category. He will receive the prize worth EUR 10,000 for his contributions to the understanding of the structure and function of GTP-binding (G) proteins next spring in Berlin. Together with him, two other scientists, Professor Nicolai Cramer (Lausanne, Switzerland) and Dr. Andreas Walther (Helsinki, Finland) will also be honored and receive EUR 10,000 each. G proteins play an important role in cellular signaling pathways and in the defense against infections. The Bayer Foundation presents this award to talented young scientists in the early stages of their academic careers.
G proteins can act as molecular switches that control growth signals in biological cells. Other G proteins function as molecular motors that deform cellular membranes. The group headed by Dr. Daumke investigates the differences and similarities between these two classes of G proteins. The researchers hope that their findings will help develop new strategies to treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes or flu.
Only recently, Dr. Daumke – together with virologists in Freiburg, Germany – elucidated how the human immune system is activated to fight against new, unknown flu viruses. They showed how a G protein called MxA stops flu viruses from replicating.
Dr. Daumke came to the MDC in 2007 as Helmholtz Young Investigator. Prior to his position in Berlin he was a researcher at the Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge (England). In September this year he was named Junior Professor at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. His previous awards include a grant within the Human Frontier Science Program, the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society and the Klaus Liebrecht Prize for the best PhD thesis at the University of Cologne.