Published: 26-06-2023 10:44 | Updated: 26-06-2023 11:58

Maurice Michel awarded the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators

Maurice Michel
Assistant Professor Maurice Michel in the lab. Photo: Oliver Mortusewicz

Assistant Professor Maurice Michel has received the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators 2023 for his research on artificial functions of DNA repair enzymes.

These ground-breaking discoveries may have far-reaching applications in the treatment of cancer or age-related degeneration,” writes the judges in a statement issued by Eppendorf SE, a Hamburg-based life sciences company.

The EUR 20,000 award was established in 1995 and honors outstanding work in biomedical research by a European scientist up to the age of 35. It is presented in partnership with the scientific journal Nature.

Maurice Michel
Assistant Professor Maurice Michel. Photo: Oliver Mortusewicz

“It is an immense honour and would not have been possible without the contribution and spirit of many scientists,” says Maurice Michel, who is an assistant professor at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet.

New pathways for DNA repair

According to the award judges, Maurice Michel has showed that binding of a small molecule to the active site of a DNA repair enzyme not only increases its activity but also prompts it to carry out a reaction not found in the free protein, leading to enhanced DNA repair after oxidative damage.

“The award recognizes the potential of manipulating enzymatic functions in living cells at will,” Maurice Michel says. “Using small molecule organocatalysts, we installed new biochemical reactions within an enzyme and have thus succeeded in rewriting the base excision repair pathway.”

Currently, Maurice Michel is focusing on broadening this technology by investigating other enzymes and biochemical reaction pathways, with the hope of finding new strategies for rerouting or reducing oxidative DNA damage according to individual needs.

The award ceremony took place on June 22 at the Advanced Training Center of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.