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Drugs from Nature in Teachings and Research - Junior Researcher Christian Hertweck appointed for Chair in Natural Produc23.02.2006 - (idw) Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)
The 36-year-old professor has already been internationally recognized for his research on natural products. Recently he discovered the actual cause of a widespread plant disease, the so-called rice seeding blight. Until then it has been assumed that the toxin, which attacks the rice plant, is produced by the fungus. But in fact bacteria, hosted by the fungus, are the actual producers of the plant-damaging substance. The toxin, however, might be helpful for humans. Since it efficiently blocks cell division, it has found considerable interest as a potential antitumor drug. Christian Hertweck has published these remarkable results in the prestigeous international journal "Nature".
Already during his studies at the University of Bonn, the chemist was attracted by natural products. The chemical synthesis of natural products has been the topic of his Ph.D. thesis at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena. After his Ph.D., Christian Hertweck received a Feodor-Lynen fellowship of the Humboldt Foundation for postdoctoral research at the University of Washington, Seattle. In order to learn more about the formation of natural products in bacteria he acquired techniques in molecular biology. When he returned to Germany he was offered the opportunity to continue his scientific career at the Hans Knoell Institute in Jena. In December 2000 he became head of the junior research group "Bioorganic Synthesis". In his "habilitation" he has been investigating the formation of complex natural products in bacteria and fungi by a combination of biological and chemical methods. These so-called polyketides represent important drug candidates.
Christian Hertweck has received the Junior Award for Natural Product Research 2005 of the DECHEMA-Society and the Research Award of Physics and Life Sciences of the Beutenberg Campus Jena.
He was now appointed for the chair in Natural Product Chemistry at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena. In addition, he is heading over 30 researchers and technicians of the department for Biomolecular Chemistry at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology.
His research aims at understanding natural product biosynthesis as a basis for developing new drug candidates. Due to the progressive resistance of pathogens there will be an increased demand for new antibiotics in the future. In addition, natural products play a crucial role in the therapy of fungal infections and cancer. Professor Hertweck also integrates these areas of research into his interdisciplinary teachings at the University of Jena.
Prof. Dr. Christian Hertweck
Department for Biomolecular Chemistry
- Hans Knoell Institute -
Tel. +49 3641 65-6700
Fax +49 3641 65-6705
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