Our genetic material is damaged every day. When deciding how to repair serious damage to DNA, cells have to choose between an error-prone and an error-free repair route. The choice is important because the decision to repair the damage in a fault-prone way can lead to further DNA damage and contribute to the development of cancer. Dr. Ron Jachimowicz, physician and scientist at Clinic I for Internal Medicine of the University Hospital of Cologne, recently discovered that the protein UBQLN4 plays a major role in the choice between the two repair pathways. The results were published in the renowned journal Cell. For these findings, the German Society for Internal Medicine e.V. (DGIM) honoured Dr. Ron Jachimowicz yesterday (6 May, 2020) with its highest award, the Theodor Frerichs Prize.
"The findings of Dr. Jachimowicz are groundbreaking for the molecular understanding of DNA repair and resulting treatment approaches in cancer research," says Prof. Jürgen Floege, chairman of the DGIM, explaining the jury's decision. "With scientific consistency, the authors identified the mechanism of a previously unknown protein in the error-prone DNA repair mechanism, when mapping and identifying a new syndrome, and thus demonstrate a therapeutic approach in the treatment of tumours with DNA repair dysfunctions," says Prof. Floege.
The DGIM jointly awarded the prize to Dr. Jakob Nikolas Kather from the University Hospital RWTH Aachen. Dr. Jachimowicz heads his research group at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing in Cologne. In addition to his work in basic research, Dr. Jachimowicz is clinically involved in the treatment of cancer patients in the Clinic I for Internal Medicine at the University Hospital of Cologne. The award is 30,000 euros.
The highest award of the DGIM is named after Friedrich Theodor von Frerichs, specialist in internal medicine and president of the first German Congress for Internal Medicine in 1882. With this award the DGIM has honored the best submitted work in this field - preferably clinical-experimental - in the German-speaking world for over 50 years,. Usually the prize is awarded during the festive evening event at the annual DGIM congress. Due to the current pandemic situation the annual conference did not take place and the award ceremony was instead held by the chairman of the DGIM Board of Directors, Prof. Jürgen Floege, on May 6, 2020 at the University Hospital RWTH Aachen.
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