Maurice Michel, born 1986, receives the 20,000 euro award for his research on artificial functions of DNA repair enzymes for the treatment of Disease. Dr. Michel showed that binding of a small molecule to the active site of a DNA repair enzyme not only increases its activity but also prompts it to carry out a reaction not found in the free protein, leading to enhanced DNA repair after oxidative damage.
„These ground-breaking discoveries may have far-reaching applications in the treatment of cancer or age-related degeneration“, the judges said.
Maurice Michel: „It is an immense honour and I feel humbled to be awarded with the 2023 Eppendorf Award. This would not have been possible without the contribution and spirit of many scientists, be it colleagues or collaborators, as well as mentors and an incredible family I call mine. The award recognises the potential of manipulating enzymatic functions in living cells at will. Using small molecule organocatalysts, we installed new biochemical reactions within an enzyme and have thus succeeded in rewriting the base excision repair pathway. Our research now focuses on a broadening of this technology base by investigating other enzymes and understand biochemical reaction pathways and their biological consequences. Rerouting or reducing oxidative DNA damage depending on individual needs could serve as a new strategy for the development of the precision therapeutics of the future.“
The award ceremony took place on June 22, 2023, at the Advanced Training Center of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.
Further information on application modalities, selection criteria and previous winners of the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators can be found at www.eppendorf.com/award.
With the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators, which was established in 1995, Eppendorf SE honors outstanding work in biomedical research and supports young scientists in Europe up to the age of 35. The Eppendorf Award is presented in partnership with the scientific journal Nature. The Award winner is selected by an independent committee composed of Prof. Reinhard Jahn (Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences, Göttingen, Germany), Sadaf Farooqi (Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK), Madeline Lancaster (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK), Ben Lehner (Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK ; Center for Genomic Regulation PRBB, Barcelona, Spain) and Laura Machesky (University of Cambridge, UK).