The LMB is delighted to announce that Michel Goedert from the Neurobiology Division has been awarded the Royal Society’s 2019 Royal Medal for Biological Sciences. Michel has been honoured for his work on neurodegenerative diseases, especially for identifying and characterising key molecules that form the inclusions of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Michel’s work has been instrumental in the discovery of the importance of assembled tau protein for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. He also identified the protein alpha-synuclein as the major component of the abnormal filamentous inclusions of Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy. More recently, in collaboration with Sjors Scheres, he provided the first structures of amyloid filaments from human brain. The main objective of Michel’s work is to understand the pathological pathways that lead from monomeric tau and alpha-synuclein to their ordered assembly and neurodegeneration.
“Michel and his co-workers keep making seminal contributions to our understanding of protein filaments that are at the heart of the devastating diseases caused by neurodegeneration, which is quite possibly the most important medical problem today. It gives me immense pleasure to have learned that the Royal Society has awarded the Royal Medal to someone so deserving and so exemplary of LMB’s culture of tackling important long-term problems,” said Jan Löwe, Director of the LMB.
Each year two Royal Medals are awarded by the Royal Society for the most important contributions to the advancement of “Natural Knowledge” in the physical and biological sciences. A third Royal Medal is awarded in the field of applied sciences. The Royal Medals are one of the Royal Society’s premier awards and are made on behalf of the Queen. They have been awarded annually since 1825.
Michel, who is also a Fellow of the Royal Society, said about the award, “I am honoured to receive the Royal Medal and feel humbled when I read the list of previous recipients. My work on neurodegenerative diseases would not have been possible without the support of Aaron Klug, the international culture of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and the contributions of a number of close collaborators.”
Last year, along with Bart De Strooper, Christian Haass and John Hardy, Michel was awarded the Brain Prize “for groundbreaking research on the genetic and molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease”. Their work has revolutionised understanding of the changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer´s disease and related dementias.
Michel is the 11th LMB scientist to be awarded a Royal Medal. The other recipients are: John Kendrew, Fred Sanger, Max Perutz, Francis Crick, Sydney Brenner, Hugh Huxley, Cesar Milstein, John Gurdon, Alan Fersht and Greg Winter.