Stephan Grill wins the 2011 Paul Ehrlich Prize for Young Researchers

October 26, 2010

The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize is one of the internationally most renowned distinctions awarded in the field of medicine in Germany. The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers has been awarded since 2006. Both prizes are awarded annually on March 14, the date of Paul Ehrlich's (1854-1915) birthday, at St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt.

How Do Cells Differentiate?

How do cells differentiate into the various cell types that make up a living organism? Alongside molecular mechanisms, there are mechanical processes that play an important role. The interactions of molecular and mechanical pathways are the focus of Dr. Stephan Grill's research. Grill, a biophysicist, has developed a method whereby mechanical forces in living cells can be measured. Using a laser, his minimally invasive method enables him to destroy particular cellular structures. Their fragments proceed to move away from each other if the structure was under mechanical tension. In this way, the scientist can systematically find out where there are mechanical forces at work in the cell. Grill's method of laser-assisted non-invasive intracellular microsurgery has opened up a whole new line of research which makes it possible to understand the interactions of mechanical and biochemical processes in cell biology.

Dr. Stephan Grill, aged 36, studied physics at the University of Heidelberg and did his PhD thesis on a biological topic at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. At EMBL he also developed his method of non-invasive intracellular microsurgery in order to investigate the mechanisms of cell division of a mother cell into two daughter cells of different size - an important process in the formation of complex organisms. His work, which was published in Nature, has been cited about 150 times to date. Following two postdoctoral positions, first in Dresden at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics with Professor Dr. Anthony Hyman (from 2002 to 2004) and then at the University of Berkeley, California, with Professor Dr. Carlos Bustamante (from 2004 to 2006), Stephan Grill took up his current work as Junior Research Group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden in 2006. Between the years of 2004 and 2006, Stephan Grill received fellowships from EMBO and the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. In 2009, he was distinguished with the Arches Award of the German Ministry of Education and Research.
The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers

The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers has been awarded by the Paul Ehrlich Foundation since 2006. It is awarded annually to a young scientist working at a research institute in Germany for outstanding accomplishments in the field of biomedical research. The prize must be used completely for research purposes. Nominees can be suggested by university lecturers as well as senior scientists of research institutes in Germany. Award winners are selected by the Council of the Paul Ehrlich Foundation following the suggestions by a selection commission comprising eight German scientists.

The Paul Ehrlich Foundation

The Paul Ehrlich Foundation is a legally dependent foundation of the Association of Friends and Patrons of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main e.V. The Honorary President of the Foundation, which was set up in 1929 by Hedwig Ehrlich, is the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, who also appoints the elected members of the Council and the Board of Trustees. The Chairman of the Association of Friends and Patrons is at the same time the Chairman of the Council of the Paul Ehrlich Foundation. This committee selects the prize winners. The President of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University is ex officio member of the Board of Trustees of the Paul Ehrlich Foundation.

Goethe University Frankfurt

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