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Otto-Warburg-Medal 2015 awarded to Prof. Nikolaus Pfanner

The Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) honours the first biochemist to succeed in deciphering the structure of mitochondria with leading scientific award

Berlin, 6 July 2015 – Prof. Nikolaus Pfanner from the University of Freiburg received yesterday the Otto Warburg Medal, the highest German award in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. The Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) and its partners Elsevier and Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, (BBA) are honouring Prof. Pfanner’s findings on the structure of cell organelles and the transportation routes of proteins through the membranes of mitochondria. The award also seeks to underline the importance of excellent scientific research to both young scientists and the public. The Otto-Warburg-Medal is endowed with 25,000 euros that will support the research of Prof. Pfanner and his team.

“I have admired the pioneering work of Otto Warburg since my days as a student,” said Prof. Pfanner, who was the world’s first researcher to decipher the structure of mitochondria. “Incredibly eminent scientists have received this award in the past and I therefore feel deeply honoured to receive the Otto Warburg Medal. It is wonderful that our work on the assembly of mitochondria has been recognized by this award.” The proteins of mitochondria are the central focus of his research.

Pfanner’s findings are groundbreaking and will have influence beyond his discipline. He essentially succeeded in creating a direct link between a malfunctioning during the transport of proteins in cells and diseases of the nervous system.

“We are very proud to be able to award the Otto-Warburg-Medal to yet another excellent and inspiring scientist this year,” said Prof. Johannes Buchner, President of the GBM. “Prof. Pfanner’s work has contributed significantly to the advancement of biochemistry and molecular biology. He has also demonstrated how his work can benefit other research disciplines. His findings on the transportation routes of proteins in mitochondria are revolutionary.”

“GMB and Elsevier share the objective of furthering research excellence,” said Dolors Alsina, Executive Publisher at Elsevier/BBA. “Together, we promote and acknowledge outstanding scientific achievements, both through the award and by making this research accessible to a broad audience. We are therefore exceptionally pleased that this year’s Otto Warburg Medal honours a scientist whose fundamental research has propelled the literature in the field of cell research forward and whose work appeals to the general public.”

The Otto Warburg Medal has been awarded since 1963, and enjoys great international prestige. Previous year’s winners include leading international scholars like Prof. Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, who was honoured with the medal on the anniversary of the science prize in October 2013. Shortly after, Schekman also received the Nobel Prize.

Since 2012, the scientific publisher Elsevier has been an exclusive partner of the Otto Warburg Medal and sponsors the award in collaboration with the leading journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA).

For more information, please visit:

Media Contacts:

Dr. Anke Lischeid
Managing Director, GBM
+49 69 660567-12

Stefanie Schieke
Consultant, APCO Worldwide
+49 30 59 000 20-23

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