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Young Investigator Award 2011

This year, the Ernst Schering Foundation’s Young Investigator Award, which carries a prize money of 10,000 euros, is given to Prof. Dr. Gunter Meister, professor of biochemistry at the University of Regensburg, whose basic research in RNA biochemistry has made an extraordinary contribution to understanding the function of non-coding RNAs. The award ceremony will take place in Frankfurt on September 27, 2011, as part of the 2011 “Molecular Life Sciences,” the annual conference of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM).

Gunter Meister is working on the basics of gene regulation by small non-coding RNAs. These molecules play an important role in the regulation of many neurodegenerative diseases and in carcinogenesis.

His early research on assembly processes of RNA-protein complexes has made a major contribution to understanding the biogenesis of spliceosomal U snRNPs. His insights into the endonuclease activity of argonaute proteins that interact with small regulatory RNAs (siRNAs, microRNAs) have increased our understanding of RNA interference (RNAi).

His current research focuses on microRNAs. It could be shown that the import receptor Importin8 plays an important role for miRNA function. Other research established that longer RNAs too (so-called snoRNAs) can be processed to miRNAs. This well-regarded studies have brought together two independent research areas that are now widely researched internationally.

Because of his outstanding work, Gunter Meister was appointed a chaired professor of biochemistry at the University of Regensburg at the age of 35.

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