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The prestigious award, worth €20,000 (US$22,000), goes to Maurice Michel of the Science for Life Laboratory at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
On June 23, 2023, Eppendorf Group announced that it is awarding its Young European Investigators 2023 research prize to Maurice Michel, PhD, of the Science for Life Laboratory, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Michel was selected by an independent jury chaired by Prof. Reinhard Jahn, emeritus director, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen. This marks the 28th time that Eppendorf has bestowed this award. Finalists included Alicia Michael, PhD, of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland, and Adel Al Jord, PhD, from Collège de France.
Michel’s research delves into artificial functions of DNA repair enzymes for the treatment of disease. Through his research he has shown that binding of a small molecule to the active site of a DNA repair enzyme not only increases the molecule’s activity, but also prompts it to carry out a reaction not found in the free protein, leading to enhanced DNA repair after oxidative damage.
“These ground-breaking discoveries may have far-reaching applications in the treatment of cancer or age-related degeneration,” said the judges on the awards jury, according to an Eppendorf company press release.
Michel is also heavily involved in Target 2035, an international federation of biomedical scientists from the public and private sectors, dedicated to develop a pharmacological tool for every human protein. The federation has generated much interest from legacy companies in general, and increasingly big pharma in particular, as it pushes into previously uncharted drug discovery terrain.
Announced in a recent Target 2035 article in a medicinal chemistry journal: “The goals of Target 2035 can only be accomplished by expanding hit-finding approaches beyond traditional methods. This is especially true for un/understudied proteins that have no link to disease. Traditional hit-finding methods tend to be prohibitively resource-intensive and limited to large private sector entities” (1).
“During the past year Target 2035 launched two Public Private partnerships (PPPs), Critical Assessment of Computational Hit-finding Experiments (CACHE), and Open Chemistry Networks (OCN) … Because CACHE is a prospective hit-finding exercise, where predicted compounds are procured and tested using biophysical and biochemical methods, the metric of success is hit rate, diversity, and drug likeness rather than binding pose or docking score,” the article explains (1).
“It is an immense honor and I feel humbled to be awarded with the 2023 Eppendorf Award,” said Michel in the company press release. “This would not have been possible without the contribution and spirit of many scientists, be it colleagues or collaborators, as well as mentors and an incredible family I call mine. The award recognizes the potential of manipulating enzymatic functions in living cells at will. Using small-molecule organocatalysts, we installed new biochemical reactions within an enzyme and have thus succeeded in rewriting the base excision repair pathway … Rerouting or reducing oxidative DNA damage depending on individual needs could serve as a new strategy for the development of the precision therapeutics of the future.”
The award ceremony took place on June 22, 2023, at the Advanced Training Center of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. Further information on application modalities, selection criteria and previous winners of the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators can be found at www.eppendorf.com/award.
1. Arrowsmith C.;Ackloo, S.; Antolin, A .; et al. Target 2035—An Update on Private Sector Contributions. RSC Med. Chem. 2023, 14, 1002–1011. DOI: 10.1039/D2MD00441K
Source: Eppendorf Group