2020-12-10

Leibniz Prize 2021 for Rolf Müller

HZI executive management congratulates natural product researcher Müller on receiving Germany's most important research award

Prof Rolf Müller, Managing Director of the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), has been awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2021 by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for his outstanding research achievements. The Leibniz Prize is the most highly endowed award regularly presented to scientists in Germany. The HIPS is a site of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, in collaboration with Saarland University.

Portrait of Rolf Müller, Managing Director of the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) and Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology at Saarland University.Rolf Müller, Managing Director of the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) and Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology at Saarland University. © Oliver Dietze“I am very pleased about the great honour for Rolf Müller and the recognition of his many years of research work. I would like to congratulate him very warmly on behalf of the entire HZI,” said Prof Dirk Heinz, Scientific Director of the HZI. “Rolf Müller is one of the world's most recognised natural product researchers and has made essential contributions to combating bacterial infectious diseases in the field of antibiotics research.”

Rolf Müller said, “I feel that the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is a great recognition of the scientific achievements of the entire institution and especially of the Department of Microbial Natural Products. Together with Saarland University and the HZI, HIPS has a great team of scientists, without whom the successes of recent years would not have been possible. The funding associated with the award will now help us to advance both existing and new projects in antibiotic research for combating antimicrobial resistance in pathogens, which is unfortunately increasing rapidly.”

In explaining its decision, the DFG particularly emphasized Müller's achievements in natural product research and biomedical microbiology. Müller has succeeded in applying new methods from molecular biology and synthetic biology, bioinformatics and functional genomics to drug research, thus contributing to the fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. In his search for new drug candidates, Müller primarily focuses on soil-dwelling myxobacteria. These microorganisms produce a variety of biologically active substances to eliminate other microbial competitors or enemies. Müller has established a worldwide programme for the discovery of new myxobacterial strains, which has already led to the discovery of new bacterial species, genera and families as well as numerous candidates for new natural products. The obtained natural products, also known as secondary metabolites, are a suitable source of lead compounds for the development of new therapeutics.

Rolf Müller received his doctorate in pharmaceutical biology in Bonn, Germany in 1994, where he also received his license to practice pharmacy. He then spent two years conducting research at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. In 2000, he habilitated at the Technische Universität Braunschweig and in 2003 accepted a professorship in pharmaceutical biochemistry at Saarland University. Since 2009, he has headed the newly founded Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland.
In total, the German Research Foundation selected ten scientists from 131 proposals. The prize money of up to 2.5 million euros each grants the award winners a large degree of research freedom and is available to them for seven years.

More information: DFG Press Release

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