Biochemistry

Martin Jinek Wins Ernst T. Jucker Award

Martin Jinek, Assistant Professor at UZH’s Department of Biochemistry, has won this year’s Ernst T. Jucker Award for groundbreaking insights in the field of cancer research. This year’s award comes with a prize of CHF 10,000.   

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Martin Jinek (34) joined the UZH Department of Biochemistry at the beginning of 2013 following six years as part of the renowned research group headed by Professor Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley. At Zurich he has been able to set up the first research group of his own. During his time at Berkeley, Jinek had already embarked on extensive research into a sophisticated bacterial defense mechanism known as the CRISPR system. More recent work at Zurich has enabled him to find out precisely how the system and the components involved in it function, right down to the atomic level.

These insights open up a whole new range of possibilities for targeted gene therapy applications, for example techniques that modify the expression of cancer genes. According to Professor Joe Jiricny, Director of the Institute of Molecular Cancer Research, research in this field has the potential to win the Nobel Prize.

The extraordinary success of Professor Jinek’s research has already led to recognition in the form of publications in prestigious journals, as well as various awards. In 2013 the European Research Council (ERC) gave him a CHF 1.5 million starting grant, which will be used to fund his research at the University of Zurich going forward. This summer, Martin Jinek also received the John Kendrew Award from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.

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