Nav: Home

Gutenberg Research Award 2016 goes to cell death researcher Vishva Dixit

May 03, 2016

The Gutenberg Research College (GRC) of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has chosen to give the 2016 Gutenberg Research Award to American biomedical researcher Dr. Vishva Dixit for his groundbreaking work in the field of programmed cell death. His findings have contributed significantly to the understanding of the actual mechanisms involved in the crucial process that is also known as apoptosis. At the same time, Dixit is also helping to convert the information obtained into a form that can be employed in clinical applications.

"In the person of Dr. Vishva Dixit, the Gutenberg Research College is bestowing the Gutenberg Research Award on an internationally acclaimed top-level researcher. His groundbreaking findings on cell death have provided important clues that help us understand in much more detail the processes associated with the immune system," emphasized the Director of the Gutenberg Research College, Professor Matthias Neubert.

Programmed cell death is actually a genetically predetermined mechanism that takes more or less the same form in almost all multi-cellular organisms. The 'death program' called apoptosis is common to all cells throughout the body. The process is indispensible because it causes the elimination of damaged or superfluous cells and is thus vital for the development of living beings. This programmed cell death enables the body to maintain a state of equilibrium known as cellular homeostasis.

If the genetically controlled death program is in any way defective, this can have serious consequences and can result, for example, in the promotion of tumor growth and neurodegenerative disorders. "With this in view, the unique importance of Dr. Dixit's work becomes apparent. Dixit and his team laid the foundations for decoding the mechanisms underlying programmed cell death in the early 1990s. He is thus one of the trailblazers in this field of fundamental research who has contributed towards putting in place the prerequisites for the development of new therapies to treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's," explained Professor Ulrich Förstermann, Chief Medical Officer of the Mainz University Medical Center.

In the early 1990s, Dixit was not only able to identify the molecular components of the cell death signal pathways, such as the so-called caspases, i.e., enzymes involved in the initiation and implementation of cell death, but was also able to uncover the mechanisms that underlie this fundamental cellular process. He has produced innovative insights into the association between inflammatory diseases and the immune system, demonstrating the existence of a multiprotein complex called inflammasome that enables the body's own immune system to battle infection.

He has made further cutting-edge findings regarding the role played by the ubiquitination and deubiquitination of proteins in the development of cancer. In this context, he was able to show which molecular processes are involved in ubiquitin-based signal transductions in cells and their relevance to carcinogenic processes, inflammatory reactions, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes.

In addition to his academic career, he contributes his extensive expertise as a top specialist in cell death research to the US biotech company Genentech. The company was one of the first biotech companies established in 1976. Besides being a member of Genentech's Board of Directors, he is still very active as a researcher and continues to publish articles in the leading journals in his field. His work is frequently cited by other scientists and can also be found in textbooks.

Dixit has collaborated with universities and research groups throughout the Rhine-Main region in the investigation of cellular signal transduction. He wants to extend and augment this cooperation in the future.

Dr. Vishva Dixit studied medicine at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. During his professional career, he has worked as a professor at the Department of Pathology of the eminent Medical School of the University of Michigan. Since 1997, he has held various posts at Genentech based in South San Francisco, originally as Director and then Senior Director of Molecular Oncology and now as a member of the Board of Directors. At Genentech he is currently the Vice President of Early Detection Research and is in charge of its postdoctoral program.

Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz

Related Immune System Articles:

The immune system may explain skepticism towards immigrants
There is a strong correlation between our fear of infection and our skepticism towards immigrants.
New insights on how pathogens escape the immune system
The bacterium Salmonella enterica causes gastroenteritis in humans and is one of the leading causes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Understanding how HIV evades the immune system
Monash University (Australia) and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.
Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery
Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found.
A new model for activation of the immune system
By studying a large protein (the C1 protein) with X-rays and electron microscopy, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have established a new model for how an important part of the innate immune system is activated.
Guards of the human immune system unraveled
Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response.
How our immune system targets TB
Researchers have seen, for the very first time, how the human immune system recognizes tuberculosis (TB).
How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants.
A new view of the immune system
Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments.
TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread
Tuberculosis tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

Related Immune System Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...