Benjamin Ryskeldi-Falcon, Group Leader in the LMB’s Neurobiology Division, has been selected to receive the Alzheimer Research Award 2022 for Basic Research from the Hans and Ilse Breuer Foundation. He shared the award with Susanne Röhr from the Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Public Health (ISAP), University of Leipzig, Germany, who was awarded for Healthcare Research. The prize, given since 2006, is awarded to scientists who have conducted outstanding research in the field of neurodegenerative disease. Here, it is given to Benjamin in recognition of his research on the abnormal assembly of proteins that underlies the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases.
Benjamin started his research group in 2019 after completing PhD and postdoctoral studies with Michel Goedert, researching the assembly of tau protein and using electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) to determine structures of assembled tau from patient brains together with Sjors Scheres. Now, his group is focused on better understanding the assembly of the protein TDP-43, which underlies motor neuron disease and frontotemporal dementia, as well as playing a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
Research from Benjamin’s group has provided a structural breakthrough in the assembly of TDP-43 protein in motor neuron disease and dementia. Using cryo-EM, Benjamin and his collaborators determined the high-resolution structures of assembled TDP-43 in different brain regions of individuals with motor neuron disease and frontotemporal dementia, revealing filaments with a previously unseen double-spiral shaped fold. This research holds significance for hugely impactful future diagnostic and therapeutic development for these common diseases.
Benjamin commented, “I am honoured to receive the Alzheimer Research Award. I would like to thank and share this honour with my colleagues and collaborators. Support from the Hans and Ilse Breuer Foundation will help with our ongoing efforts to understand the molecular mechanisms that cause neurodegenerative diseases.”
The Hans and Ilse Breuer Foundation, founded in 2000, is committed to improving the lives of dementia sufferers and their relatives. Alongside projects to support care and therapy needs, the Foundation seeks to counteract the increase in dementia related diseases through targeted promotion of fundamental research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of such diseases.
“The Hans and Ilse Breuer Foundation is proud to support such a gifted young scientist, who is performing cutting edge research by determining the three-dimensional structure of protein deposits characteristic for several neurodegenerative disorders. His work will help to understand disease mechanisms and may also provide the basis for the development of disease modifying strategies,” commented the Hans and Ilse Breuer Foundation.
Benjamin’s work has previously been recognised with the 2019 Rising Star Award from Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Benjamin is the first recipient of the award as a current member of the LMB and LMB alumnus, Eva-Maria Mandelkow, was the award winner in 2007.