During the opening ceremony at the International Analytica Trade Fair in
Munich, Germany the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
(GBM) awarded the renowned Science prize "Molecular Bioanalytics" for
2004. For the seventeenth time, scientists were honored with the prize,
endowed by Roche Diagnostics, in the amount of 50,000 euro for their
extraordinary contributions to molecular bioanalytics.
This year, the prize went to American Dr. Stephen P.A. Fodor, British
Professor Sir Edwin Southern, and posthumously to the Russian Professor
Andrei Mirzabekov, who passed away last year, for their fundamental
contributions to the development of microarray technology (DNA chip).
DNA chip technology is one of the applications with the greatest diagnostic
clinical potential. Individual DNA segments are affixed to a glass surface,
thereby functioning as so-called probes. Each probe detects a specific gene
sequence. The sequences bind to the probe by hybridization. Unlike any
other technology, gene chips are the premier example of miniaturization and
automation in bioanalytics and medicine. They provide actionable information
relevant for research, diagnosis, and treatment and open the door to more
individualized medicine. The function of genes or predispositions for certain
tumor diseases can be diagnosed, as can the tolerability of drugs. This
facilitates the selection and dosage of active ingredients for treatment. In
addition, unnecessary costs in the health-care sector can be avoided.
Dr. Fodor, a doctor of chemistry, researched methods with a high throughput
of material and described microarray technology for the first time. In
addition, he is co-founder, president, and CEO of Affymetrix, a California-
based biotechnology company and a leading manufacturer of DNA chips.
Professor Southern of the University of Oxford also received the prize in 1984
for developing the DNA hybridization method named after him (Southern
blotting). As a repeat winner, he has demonstrated his extraordinary scientific
abilities once again.
Professor Mirzabekov was the director of the Engelhardt Institute for
Molecular Biology in Moscow for almost 20 years. He played a central role in
the Human Genome Project and worked tirelessly and under difficult
circumstances on the development of DNA chips for unknown sequences. He
died last summer.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading
innovation-driven healthcare groups. Its core businesses are pharmaceuticals
and diagnostics. Roche is number one in the global diagnostics market, the
leading supplier of pharmaceuticals for cancer and a leader in virology and
transplantation. As a supplier of products and services for the prevention,
diagnosis and treatment of disease, the Group contributes on a broad range
of fronts to improving people's health and quality of life. Roche employs
roughly 65,000 people in 150 countries. The Group has alliances and research
and development agreements with numerous partners, including majority
ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai. Roche's Diagnostics Division,
the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics with a uniquely broad product
portfolio, supplies a wide array of innovative testing products and services to
researchers, physicians, patients, hospitals and laboratories world-wide. In
Germany, the company has approximately 10,000 employees at its two sites
in Mannheim and Penzberg.