The Annemarie Opprecht-Foundation has announced LMB Group Leaders Michel Goedert and Sjors Scheres as recipients of one of its 2023 Parkinson Awards. The Annemarie Opprecht-Foundation was established in Switzerland in 1998 and seeks to promote international research in the field of Parkinson’s disease. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Foundation has for the first time awarded two prizes, the second going to James Surmeier from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.
Michel and Sjors have a longstanding collaboration, combining Michel’s expertise in neurodegenerative diseases with Sjors’ expertise in atomic imaging, to determine the atomic structures of filaments from the brains of individuals with various neurodegenerative diseases. They have been awarded the 2023 Annmarie Opprecht Award for their contributions to determining the structures of abnormal filaments underlying numerous neurodegenerative diseases. This includes their recent study using electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) to determine the previously unknown structures of α-synuclein filaments from Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. These findings are providing new insights into Parkinson’s disease, which is the most prevalent movement disorder and the second most common neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer’s disease.
Michel Goedert, Group Leader in the LMB’s Neurobiology Division, has led his own research group at the LMB since 1987. He has also served as Head (both joint and sole) of the Neurobiology Division from 2003 until 2016. His research is mainly devoted to the study of the ordered assembly into filaments of the proteins tau and α-synuclein in a number of human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Michel has received numerous Awards for his work, including the Brain Prize in 2018, the Royal Society’s Royal Medal in 2019 and the Piepenbrock-DZNE Prize in 2021. He is a member of EMBO, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Sjors Scheres has been a Group Leader in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division since 2010, where he is now also Joint Head of Division. His research focuses on visualising protein structures to better understand their normal function and their role in disease. His development of novel image processing methods, including his open-source computer programme RELION, has helped spearhead the advancement of cryo-EM to record breaking resolutions.
Sjors is a member of EMBO, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. His outstanding contributions to the field of structural biology have been recognised by numerous Awards, including the Bijvoet Medal in 2018, the Leeuwenhoek Medal from the Royal Society in 2021, and the Biochemical Society 2022 AstraZeneca Award.