Sarah Reisman and Christian Hertweck receive Inhoffen Medals

HZI and Technische Universität Braunschweig honour researchers in natural product chemistry

Nature is an important source of active substances used in medicine. The goal of natural product chemistry is to isolate these active substances, elucidate their structure, synthesise them in the laboratory and produce new variants. The Friends of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) have awarded the Inhoffen Medal to two scientists for their research achievements in this field: Prof Sarah Reisman, California Institute of Technology, and Prof Christian Hertweck, Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knöll Institute (HKI) Jena, will receive the awards for the years 2022 and 2020, respectively. The award ceremony took place on 9 June 2022 in the auditorium of the Haus der Wissenschaft in Braunschweig.

Presentation of the Inhoffen Medals 2020 and 2022Presentation of the Inhoffen Medals 2020 and 2022. (left to right) Prof Dieter Jahn, Prof Wilhelm Boland, Prof Christian Hertweck, Prof Sarah Reisman, Prof Alois Fürstner, Prof Angela Ittel, Prof Dirk Heinz. ©Kristina Rottig/TU BraunschweigThe Inhoffen Medal 2022 was awarded to Prof Sarah Reisman. “For her work, Sarah Reisman always chooses structurally highly complex target molecules of great biological relevance, such as various antibiotics. She is a master of reducing these compounds to much simpler building blocks. Occasionally, the chemical reactions required to assemble the building blocks are not even known; in such cases, she develops the necessary methods for this in parallel in her laboratory,” said laudator Prof Alois Fürstner, Director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim/Ruhr and winner of the 2014 Inhoffen Medal, about the awardee.

Sarah Reisman studied chemistry at Connecticut College, USA, and received her doctorate from Yale University in 2006. She then conducted research at Harvard University as a fellow of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since 2008, she is heading a research group at the California Institute of Technology and works on innovative syntheses of molecules with medical applications.

Presentation of the Inhoffen Medals 2020 and 2022Presentation of the Inhoffen Medals 2020 and 2022. (left to right) laudator Prof Wilhelm Boland, awardee Prof Christian Hertweck, awardee Prof Sarah Reisman, laudator Prof Alois Fürstner. ©Kristina Rottig/TU Braunschweig In addition, Prof Christian Hertweck was awarded with the Inhoffen Medal 2020. “Prof. Christian Hertweck is an outstanding scientist who is one of the most productive natural product researchers,” said Prof Wilhelm Boland, director emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena and 2005 recipient of the Inhoffen Medal, about the awardee and highlighted his achievements in researching biosynthetic programmes in bacteria and fungi as well as microbial communication in various ecosystems. The ceremony for Christian Hertweck had been postponed several times due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Christian Hertweck studied chemistry at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Bonn, where he also received his doctorate in 1999. From 2001, he headed a junior research group at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knöll Institute (HKI) Jena. Since 2006, he chairs the “Biomolecular Chemistry” department there and also holds the position of deputy director of the HKI Jena since 2008.

The Inhoffen Prize, awarded by the Friends of the HZI and endowed with 8000 euros, is considered the most prestigious German award in the field of natural products chemistry. It is awarded as part of the Inhoffen Lecture, a joint ceremony of the HZI, the Technische Universität Braunschweig and the Friends of the HZI.

About the Inhoffen Medal:

To commemorate the chemist Prof Hans Herloff Inhoffen (deceased in 1992), the Technische Universität Braunschweig, the HZI (formerly: German Research Centre for Biotechnology (Gesellschaft für Biotechnologische Forschung or GBF)) and the Friends of the HZI annually organise the Inhoffen Lecture (since 1994) at which the award bearing his name is presented. Inhoffen taught at the Technische Universität Braunschweig from 1946 to 1974 and served as its Rector from 1948 to 1950. Moreover, in 1965, he founded the “Institute for Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics” (IMB), the predecessor institution of the GBF and, by extension, of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research.

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