Croatian scientist Prof. Dr. Ivan Dikic takes two prestigious scientific awards in Germany

Ivan Dikic   Photo: Uwe Dettmar

Ivan Dikic Photo: Uwe Dettmar

German Research Foundation (DFG), which awards the largest scientific cash prize in the world (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz award), in the amount of 2.5 million euros, announced that Ivan Dikic is awarded for his work in discovering the function of the protein ubiquitin complex, known as the “kiss of death“. Ubiquitin is a small protein, present in large amounts in all cells, and its function is to mark proteins that should be degraded and removed in other to keep the health of the cells.

Announced December 2012
Croatian scientist and a member of the VERN’ Advisory Council professor Ivan Dikic, PhD, won a prestigious German Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz award for science for 2013. Award ceremony 19 March 2013 in Berlin.

Prof. Dr. Ivan Dikic (46), Biochemistry/Cellular Biology, University of Frankfurt
“Ivan Dikic has been among the world’s leading researchers in the fields of molecular oncology and cellular signalling for many years. His research deals primarily with the ubiquitin signal molecule, which plays a critical role in the destruction of unneeded cell proteins. Dikic’s research led him to the discovery of a new type of ubiquitin receptor, RPn13, the structure and functionality of which he subsequently described in detail. With this and other work, particularly on ubiquitin-binding domains of cell proteins, Dikic made essential contributions to the understanding of fundamental cellular processes such as DNA repair, congenital immunity, and “selective autophagocytosis”, the latter of which he was the first to describe. His contributions are also of tremendous importance for medicine, since defects during proteolysis are a factor in a wide variety of illnesses.
Ivan Dikic is a Croatian citizen. He studied medicine in Zagreb and did postdoctoral work at New York University and in Uppsala, Sweden. In 2002 he became a professor of biochemistry at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. Since 2009 he has been director of its Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences and the Institute for Biochemistry II. Dikic is a member of Germany’s National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) and has received numerous awards for his research, including the German Cancer Prize and an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC)”.
Announced: January 2013
The Jung Foundation for Science and Research announced that Frankfurt professor Ivan Dikic will receive the Ernst Jung Prize 2013 for his groundbreaking work in understanding the role of Ubiquitin in cellular signal regulation. The prize is awarded with 150,000 Euro and will be presented at a ceremony on 3rd May in Hamburg.

Ubiquitin is a small protein which is abundant in all cells. It first became famous as ‘kiss of death’ due to its ability to target other proteins for degradation. Today a much more complex role for Ubiquitin has been established, and Ivan Dikic was one of the pioneers in the field unraveling the mechanisms by which this amazing regulator achieves high specificity despite its ubiquitous presence.

Ubiquitin exerts its action by being attached to other proteins in multiple different ways, leading to an almost unlimited number of possible structures. Ivan Dikic was among the first to conceptualize and prove that these Ubiquitin modifications work like codes that are recognized by highly specific domains in other proteins, thereby bringing interaction partners in a cell together like a matching key and lock. His contribution to decrypting the code by which Ubiquitin mediates its signals fundamentally changed the view on the power of this small regulator, not only in healthy cells, but also in human diseases. He realized the role of this molecule in several diseases, e.g. cancer, immunological disorders and infection, and the enormous potential for therapeutic intervention.

Since 1976, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine is granted annually by the Jung Foundation for Science and Research for scientific achievements with therapeutic relevance and impact on treatment options. The foundation was funded by Ernst Jung, a Hamburg merchant, who had a great interest in progress of medicine and biomedical research for the benefit of patients. Ivan Dikic shares this years’ prize with Prof. Angelika Amon from Cambridge (USA) who is recognized for her pioneering work on the control of chromosomal segregation.

“I am very honored to receive this prestigious prize. I have always been an advocate of linking medicine and natural sciences to better understand the molecular nature of diseases, and I strongly believe that medicine cannot progress without such an interdisciplinary approach. It makes me very happy to be able to contribute to medical progress, and I am grateful to all mentors, fellow scientists and colleagues who have been part of this journey”, says Dikic.


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