Prestigious award for pioneering work in nucleic acid research

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Claudia Höbartner, Head of the Chair of Organic Chemistry I, University of Würzb
Claudia Höbartner, Head of the Chair of Organic Chemistry I, University of Würzburg. (Image: Christoph Weiss / Uni Würzburg)
Prof Claudia Höbartner from the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Würzburg receives this year’s Hansen Family Award for her research on the biomolecular chemistry of functional nucleic acids.

Every two years, the Bayer Foundation honours leading scientists from German-speaking countries with the Hansen Family Award for pioneering research in medicine and related disciplines. This year, the 75,000 Euro award goes to Prof Claudia Höbartner from the University of Würzburg (JMU). She studies the structure, mechanisms and applications of functional nucleic acids, known as deoxyribozymes for DNA and ribozymes for RNA.

Research provides new insights into the function of nucleic acids

"For a long time, nucleic acids were only seen as molecules for storing and transferring information in living cells," reads the Bayer Foundation’s press release on the award. "With her research, Claudia Höbartner was able to show that these molecules can also play a decisive role in numerous biochemical reactions, as is known from enzymatic proteins." In addition to these new fundamental insights into the structure and function of nucleic acids, her research has also opened up new applications in medical diagnostics and therapy.

Claudia Höbartner pursues ambitious next goals in her research. She aims at finding new ribozymes, strives to understand their structures and mechanisms, and she is convinced that ribozymes will be used to modify the cellular RNA landscape in the future.

Claudia Höbartner has been a professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at JMU since 2017. She was recently honoured for her research and scientific commitment with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation. She regularly publishes her work in renowned scientific journals and is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

By Sebastian Hofmann