Bernd Bukau received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for his work in the area of Cell Biology.
Bernd Bukau studied biology in Besançon, Santa Cruz, and Constance; he worked as a school teacher before completing his PhD in microbiology in Constance. Following a stint as a postdoc in the USA and work as a project group leader at the Center for Molecular Biology in Heidelberg, he accepted a position as professor for biochemistry at the University of Freiburg. The main theme of his recent work is the molecular mechanisms of protein folding in the cell – one of the foundations of molecular biology. More specifically, he is interested in the function and regulation of the so-called chaperones, which support and control the process of protein folding in the cell. Particularly important is the role of the chaperones under stress conditions, e.g., heat shock, in which misfolding can occur. His latest experiments have focused on the question of whether and according to what mechanisms various chaperone systems cooperate as a part of a functional network in cellular folding processes.