Top scientific achievements lead to new therapies

Jung Foundation for Science and Research announces 2016 prize winners – More than half a million euros in support of science.

January 8 marks the death of Hamburg’s entrepeneur and philanthropist Ernst Jung, who 40 years ago established and generously funded the eponymous foundation. In remembrance of the great supporter of medical sciences, on this day the Hamburg-based Jung Foundation for Science and Research traditionally announces the recipients of the Foundation’s major awards. The 2016 prize winners are Professor Hans-Georg Rammensee, PhD, Professor Peter Libby, MD, and PD Dr. Sebastian Kobold, MD.

The Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, with 300,000 euros one of Europe’s highest research prizes, is awarded to an internationally renowned immunobiologist, Professor Dr. rer. nat. Hans-Georg Rammensee of Tübingen University, for his groundbreaking work on the molecular structure of cell surface peptides. Such surface peptides play an important role in the recognition of cells by the immune system. The aim of his work is to identify cancer-specific surface peptides. His research results are intended to deliver the basis for personalized therapies – a particularly promising concept because the cancer-specific peptides are individual to each patient. He is considered the leading expert in the field of cancer-immunobiology and his approach to individualized cancer treatment has already yielded novel clinical applications.

The Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine honours an exceptional American physician-scientist, Peter Libby, MD, Professor at Harvard Medical School for a lifetime of outstanding research and clinical achievement. The award recognizes his work establishing the key role of the immune system, in particular inflammation, in atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, the predominant cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. By demonstrating the importance of inflammatory processes in all stages and forms of atherosclerosis, Peter Libby has greatly contributed to shaping our current concept of this complex disease. Furthermore, his basic and clinical research findings have led to novel therapeutic approaches. Conferment of the Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine also entitles winners to award a scholarship worth 30,000 euros to a young scientist of their personal choice and thus to promote a new generation of researchers.

The Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award for Medical Research honours an exceptional young investigator, University of Munich-based tumour researcher and Senior Academic Assistant Dr. med. Sebastian Kobold. His research project utilizes a particularly malignant form of cancer, the carcinoma of the pancreas. It aims to develop new proteins that are intended to enable T cells in the human immune system to destroy pancreatic carcinoma cells. Thanks to the award from the Jung Foundation for Science and Research in the amount of 210,000 euros, Dr. Kobold will be able to take a break from routine clinical duties and to dedicate himself for three years to the development of this promising approach.

All three prizes will be presented in May 2016 in a festive setting in Hamburg, where the Foundation has its headquarters and where an international committee of eminent scientists convenes to select the winners of the Jung Prize and Gold Medal, irrespective of their country of origin. In contrast, the Career Advancement Award for Medical Research is open to direct applications and is meant to promote academic medicine in Germany by supporting outstanding investigators under the age of 35 working at or returning to an academic institution in Germany. It is awarded for 11th time.

Promoting research because it leads to healing

The Jung Foundation for Science and Research

One of the aims laid down in the statutes of the Jung Foundation is to award prizes to scientists and projects which are preparing advances in medical therapy through their work or – in the case of the Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine – have already brought about such advances. This is because for Ernst Jung, who established the Foundation, the focus of human medicine was always to be on the ideal of preventing, healing or easing suffering. This is why the translation from theory to therapy is a key concern of the Foundation.

During the post-war period, the shipowner and merchant Ernst Jung (1896 – 1976) was an important Hamburg entrepreneur. Cosmopolitan and open to innovations, Ernst Jung was constantly involved in technical improvements and social projects. His philanthropic works were also characterized by a focus on health and the community. As early as 1967, he invested a significant part of his assets to establish the Jung Foundation for Science and Research, which has been exclusively dedicated  to human medicine since 1975.