Honored for his pioneering work in the field of genetic transcription, the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
Credit: Irene Bocher Jajewski / Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
The award is one of the most prestigious in Europe and has been awarded 500,000 Swiss francs. With this award the Louis-Jeantet Foundation honors the director of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for biophysical chemistry for his pioneering work in the field of genetic transcription. Transcription is a transcription process that enables living cells to make copies of their genes that then act as blueprints for making proteins. Kramer’s research focuses on the molecular machines, called RNA polymerase, that control this basic process of life.
“Patrick Kramer visualized the structures of many of these cellular transcription machines in atomic detail for the first time. He demonstrated how RNA polymers translate genetic information and how they work as a team with other protein complexes. His pioneering research provides deep insights into genetic transcription in unprecedented detail.” Managerial at MPI’s Institute of Biophysical Chemistry: “He strongly deserves that his outstanding accomplishments now be honored with the Louis Janet Prize.”
With his research, Patrick Kramer also wants to understand how to control cellular transcription machines. After all, the genetic information is identical in all cells, but is only read on demand. Through this precise transcriptional control, a complex organism can develop with various specialized cells such as skin, nerves, or liver cells. To understand transcription and gene regulation at the molecular and cellular levels, the molecular biologist brings together a variety of approaches in his research group, from biochemistry and electron microscopy to functional genomics and bioinformatics. “It is a special honor to be awarded the Louis Janet Award. I am very grateful to the many co-workers who over the years have contributed their outstanding research. I hope we will all be vaccinated soon and we can celebrate this success,” says Kremer.
The molecular biologist plans to use the prize money for his research on the novel coronavirus, among other things. Shortly after the start of the epidemic, Kramer’s group pictured how the coronavirus replicates its genetic material and what 3D structure the pathogen polymerase adopts during transcription. More recently, Kramer’s team also envisioned how remdesivir interferes with this transcription process. Remdesivir was the first drug approved in Europe and the United States to treat Covid-19 infections. Kramer’s team has described how remdesivir weakens transcription of the viral genome, and that it does not completely block this process. “Our results could explain, at least in part, why the drug was not working as well as expected,” says Kramer. “Developing molecules that can more efficiently inhibit the corona polymerase is now an important goal.”
About Patrick Kramer
Patrick Kramer studied chemistry in Stuttgart and Heidelberg as well as in Bristol and Cambridge (England). After receiving his doctorate at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Grenoble (France), he worked as a postdoctoral researcher with future Nobel Prize winner Roger Kornberg at Stanford University in California (USA) from 1999 to 2001. Then he was appointed Professor of Biochemistry At Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where he also headed the Genetics Center from 2004 to 2013. Since 2014, Kramer has been Director of the MPI Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen heading the Department of Molecular Biology. Kramer is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the Otto Warburg Medal, and the Medal of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the US National Academy of Sciences.
About the Louis-Jeantet Awards
The Swiss Louis-Jeantet Foundation awards up to three awards annually to scientists conducting biomedical research and working in a member state of the Council of Europe. Patrick Kramer is already the fourth scientist at the MPI Institute for Biophysical Chemistry to be honored with this award, following Burt Sachman, Peter Gross and Herbert Eckle.