Renate and Karlheinz Schmidt Prize for Basic Research in the Natural SciencesDr. rer. nat. Lorenzo Bonaguro from the LIMES Institute at the University of Bonn is the winner of the inaugural Renate and Karlheinz Schmidt Prize for Basic Research in the Natural Sciences. The prize, which recognizes an outstanding publication in the field of biochemistry at the University of Bonn, is awarded in cooperation with the University of Bonn Foundation and is endowed with 10,000 euros.
Dr. Bonaguro was selected for the award for his scientific works on the subject of immunosenescence, which is the progressive deterioration of the immune system among the elderly. "Immunosenescent people have an increased risk of developing many non-communicable diseases - for example, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease - and are more susceptible to serious infections, in part because they no longer respond well to vaccinations," said Bonaguro at the award ceremony in the auditorium of the German Center of Neurodegenerative Diseases e. V. (DZNE) in Bonn.
In his 2020 doctoral dissertation ’’Creld1 controls T cell homeostasis in mouse and human’’, Bonaguro ’’investigated the role of the CRELD1 protein in immunological aging and the maintenance of the healthy pool of peripheral T cells in mice and humans.’’ In doing so, he developed a strong interest in the study of the immune system, particularly in the interaction between innate and adaptive immune responses in the elderly.
During the coronavirus pandemic, he collaborated with the Systems Medicine Team in Bonn, which examined the immunopathology of COVID-19. This collaboration helped him recognize the sizeable potential of omics approaches, which utilize various technologies (including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) to investigate moleculobiological processes. Bonaguro is particularly interested in measurements at the population level and is investigating the variation of gene expression among healthy individuals to predict the function of a particular gene. In doing so, he employed the huva approach to develop a tool for data analysis and made it available to the research community.
The ability to predict the function of a gene can help to hypothesize about genes involved in specific diseases or validate clinical findings - a process that would otherwise take several months and incur high costs. At the same time, this approach enables better design of experiments, which drastically reduces the employment of animal models in medical science.
Renate and Karlheinz Schmidt Foundation
The Renate and Karlheinz Schmidt Foundation in the Donors’ Association was established in 2007 by spouses Renate and Dr. Karlheinz Schmidt. Its aim is to foster basic research by scientists at universities and public research institutes in the fields of chemistry, physics, and biology. Preference is to be given to scientists who strive to build bridges between disciplines and overcome national boundaries. In addition to the awarding of the prize for the first time, the foundation has also supported the ’’Deutschlandstipendium’’ scholarship at the University of Bonn since 2021 and awards two scholarships for students in the bachelor’s degree program in chemistry.
University of Bonn Foundation
"Foster people. Realize ideas. Create the future." The University of Bonn Foundation is an umbrella foundation established in 2009 consisting of numerous donors and supporters who are committed to the University of Bonn. Within the umbrella foundation, there are 27 endowment funds, five trust foundations, and five collections. The main focus of the foundation is on four areas of support: the awarding of scholarships and prizes as well as project and research funding at the University of Bonn. Donors can support the areas of research and teaching in particular through targeted sponsorships. In doing so, donors create new opportunities and excellent conditions for the young people researching and working there.