News | May 12, 2004

2004 Molecular Bioanalytics Science Prize Awarded

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.