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Nikolaus Pfanner

Nikolaus Pfanner (*1956 Simmerberg im Allgäu) received the Max Planck Research Prize for his work in the area of Molecular Cell Biology.

Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner, Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, received the research prize for his seminal findings concerning the functioning of cells.

The inside of cells, the smallest units of an organism that are capable of independent life, are organized into various components. These so-called organelles can be compared to a highly complicated factory, in which the “production process,” i.e., the replacement and new development of proteins, depends on the well-organized and smooth cooperation of the various actors. As the proteins are not produced at the location where they are needed, however, there has to be a system to transport the proteins to the right cell organelles. Professor Pfanner and his team have now studied how these newly produced proteins make their way to the mitochondria, the power plants of the cells. The scientists discovered several receptors and channels that can identify, sort, and transport the new proteins into the correct cell organelles. The findings of Professor Pfanner and his research group thus also laid important foundations for improving our understanding of mitochondrial diseases, including neurological diseases and other severe system diseases. 

Further research awards: