2009 Eric K. Fernström prize goes to protein researcher

Published 2009-09-29 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:24

[PRESS RELEASE 2009-09-22] The 2009 Eric K Fernström prize is to be presented to research leader Nico Dantuma of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet, in recognition of his groundbreaking work into the mechanisms of protein degradation.

Nico Dantuma
Nico DantumaPhoto: Florian Salomons

Of particular importance in Nico Datuma's research is his discovery of stabilisation signals, protein sequences that protect against degradation. These new findings are of considerable medical significance to our understanding of how neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's are caused by defective protein degradation.

"I'm being awarded the prize for three things," says Mr Dantuma. "First because my group and I have developed a system enabling us to study the complex machinery called the 26S proteasome in living cells. This is the system that regulates the degradation of proteins. Second, for our research into why old and faulty proteins are not broken down as they should be by people with a neurodegenerative disease. And third, for our research into how proteins protect themselves against degradation through special domains that we've called stabilisation signals."

His hope is that future research into stabilisation signals will reveal as yet unknown aspects of the named diseases.

The prize will be awarded at a ceremony held in Stockholm's Berwald Hall on 28 October 2009 to coincide with Karolinska Institutets installation ceremony for new professors.

The Eric K. Fernström Foundation was established in 1978 to promote medical scientific research. The primary objective of the foundation is to award annual monetary prizes to researchers who have made important contributions to medical science. Eric Fernström was keen to encourage young researchers, and so every year the foundation awards a Nordic prize and six additional prizes to young scientists. Each of the country's medical faculties selects its own prize-winner.

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