Dr. Leif S. Ludwig is one of ten scientists to receive the prize. The DFG will award each of them €200,000, which they can use to advance their research over a period of three years. The award ceremony will be held in Berlin, on October 16, 2023.
The 40-year-old heads the Stem Cell Dynamics and Mitochondrial Genomics Group at the BIH and Max Delbrück Center. He is particularly interested in the mitochondria – the cells’ power plants that generate the energy needed for muscle cells to contract, nerve cells to transmit signals, and immune cells to ward off pathogens. “Mitochondria are vital and unique cellular components,” says Ludwig, describing his field of research. “What’s especially exciting for us is that they have their own genome. Mutations – errors in the DNA sequence – can occur here, and some of these can cause severe diseases. Single mutations, on the other hand, allow us to trace the lineage of cells. That’s what makes them so interesting for our research.”
The DFG cited the following reasons for its decision: Leif Ludwig, who holds a doctorate in both biochemistry and medicine, is already leaving his mark on a wide field of research. He and his laboratory are developing single-cell sequencing technologies to answer central questions in stem cell biology and the biology of the mitochondrial genome. As a postdoctoral researcher, he studied so-called cellular heterogeneity and looked at how cells are related to each other. Heterogeneity arises from variations in the genome of cells as they move from a less specialized to a more specialized cell type during differentiation. Ludwig has successfully used new approaches to answer questions about cellular heterogeneity, thus contributing significantly to the further development of personalized medicine. His work also helps advance efforts to map the properties of human cells, such as those by the Human Cell Atlas initiative.
„Our joint focus area on single-cell approaches in personalized medicine provides an ideal scientific environment in which a scientist like Leif Ludwig can thrive. The close proximity of excellent junior groups within the MDC-BIMSB strongly promotes this type of work and fruitful exchange. We are truly pleased about the success of his work and this well-deserved award,” says Professor Maike Sander, Scientific Director of the Max Delbrück Center.
About Leif Ludwig
Beginning in 2003, Dr. Leif Si-Hun Ludwig studied biochemistry at Freie Universität Berlin and then human medicine at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. As a doctoral candidate in biochemistry, he conducted research at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research from 2011 to 2015 and as a postdoctoral researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard from 2016 to 2020, both in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States. Since November 2020, he has been an Emmy Noether Group Leader in the joint focus area “Single-Cell Approaches for Personalized Medicine” of the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) and the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology of the Max Delbrück
Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC-BIMSB). His laboratory is based at MDC-BIMSB. Ludwig has received multiple awards for his research, including the Hector Research Career Development Award in 2021 and the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers in March of this year.