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Max Delbrück Medal for US Stem Cell Pioneer Professor Irving Weissman

The American stem cell researcher Professor Irving Weissman of Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA, has received the Max Delbrück Medal of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Berlin-Buch, Germany on the evening of May 21, 2013. With this medal the MDC honors the stem cell research of Professor Weissman, who has been at the forefront of this field for decades.

Stem cells are rare cells in the body which have the capacity to self-renew and to develop into multiple types of differentiated cells. Professor Weissman`s research group was the first to identify and isolate hematopoietic stem cells, first in mice, later in humans. From these self-renewing cells differentiated blood cells are generated throughout life, a process in which a single stem cell can give rise to millions of differentiated cells of different types. He also discovered stem cells involved in brain, skeletal muscle and osteochondral development.

Professor Weissman is also at the forefront of cancer stem cell biology. His work has led to the identification of stem cells in a variety of blood and solid cancers. These cancer stem cells often represent only a small fraction of the cells of a malignant tumor and may be resistant to standard chemotherapy. Most recently, he and his collaborators have discovered a mechanism by which cancer cells including cancer stem cells protect themselves against being engulfed and destroyed by specialized immune cells, a process called phagocytosis. Also, they have shown that this mechanism can be therapeutically targeted.

Professor Weissman studied medicine in Stanford and Oxford, UK. He presently directs the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. He is recipient of many research awards, among them the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research of the Brandeis University, Waltham, in 2009, the Robert Koch Prize in 2008, and the I. &. H. Wachter Award of the I. &. H. Wachter Foundation of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, in 2007. He also received many honorary doctorates and is member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Professor Weissman has inspired and trained generations of young scientists.

The Max Delbrück Medal is presented to outstanding scientists on the occasion of the “Max Delbrück Award Lecture”, which the MDC organises. The conferral of the award takes place in conjunction with a lecture given by the award recipient. The medal is named after the physicist, biologist and Nobel Prize laureate (1969) Max Delbrück (1906 Berlin - 1981 Pasadena, USA), who is considered one of the founders of molecular biology. The MDC was also named after him. It was founded in Berlin-Buch in 1992 and is a member of the Helmholtz Association.

Professor Irving Weissman of Stanford University, California, USA (left), recipient of the Max Delbrück Medal of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Professor Walter Rosenthal (right), chairman of the board and scientific director of the MDC. In the background the sculpture of Max Delbrück (sculptor Hans Scheib). (Photo: Peter Himsel/ Copyright: MDC)

Barbara Bachtler
Press Department
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch
in the Helmholtz Association
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10; 13125 Berlin; Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax:  +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33

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