Heinrich Wieland Prize.
With its Heinrich Wieland Prize, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation honours distinguished scientists from around the world for their outstanding research on biologically active molecules and systems in the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology as well as their clinical importance. Endowed with 100,000 euros, the prize is named after chemist and Nobel laureate Heinrich Otto Wieland (1877–1957) and has been awarded since 1964. It is among the world’s most important research prizes endowed by a German foundation. As of 2022, five of its laureates have subsequently also received a Nobel Prize. The Heinrich Wieland Prize award ceremony is held in conjunction with a scientific symposium. Each year, the foundation publishes a public call for nominations. Deadline for nominations is:
June 1 of the year prior to the award.
To learn more about the Heinrich Wieland Prize, click on the picture on the left or follow this link to the YouTube channel of the Prize.
Alternatively you can visit the Heinrich Wieland Prize website.
Board of Trustees of the Heinrich Wieland Prize
The Foundation entrusts the selection of laureates to a Board of Trustees which is composed of internationally renowned scientists, all working in an honorary capacity. Current members of the board are:
- Prof. Dr Silvia Arber – University of Basel, Switzerland
- Prof. Bonnie Bassler, PhD – Princeton University, USA
- Prof. Dr Stefan Bornstein (Deputy Chairman) – University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden, Germany
- Prof. Erick M. Carreira, PhD – ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Prof. Dr. Florian Gantner – C. H. Boehringer Sohn AG & Co. KG, Biberach, Germany
- Prof. Dr F.-Ulrich Hartl (Chairman) – Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany
- Prof. Dr Werner Seeger – University Hospital of Giessen and Marburg, Giessen, and Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim, Germany
- Prof. Dr Dirk Trauner – New York University, USA
- Prof. Fiona Watt, DPhil – EMBO, Heidelberg, Germany
Xiaowei Zhuang of Harvard University in Cambridge, USA, received the 2022 Heinrich Wieland Prize of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation worth 100,000 euros on 6 October 2022 for making seminal discoveries in cell and neurobiology with the ingenious imaging technologies she developed. Thanks to her inventions we can observe how structures about 100 atoms wide do their work in human cells and get clear snapshots of the activity of 10,000 genes within one cell at the same time. Over the past 16 years, Zhuang, as well as scientists worldwide, have gained valuable insights into complex biological processes using STORM, her super-resolution method, and MERFISH, her genome-scale imaging method.
The prize was presendted to Xiaowei Zhuang during a festive ceremony follwing the scientific award symposium at Nymphenburg Palace, Munich, on 6 October 2022.
You can find further information here:
Image gallery with STORM and MERFISH images
Programm of the Heinrich Wieland Prize award symposium
As one of the world’s foremost immunologists, Professor Thomas Boehm has made ground-breaking contributions to the understanding of how the immune system of vertebrates develops, how it works, and has evolved over time. For his many achievements, he has received the 2021 Heinrich Wieland Prize, endowed with 100,000 euros by the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation. His outside-the-box thinking and innovative approaches have enabled surprising, even paradigm-shifting insights, into the function of the immune system, which reach beyond immunology.
For more information, please refer to the full press release, the Heinrich Wieland Prize website, or the website Heinrich Wieland Prize at Berlin Science Week (in German only).
The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation and the Board of Trustees will award the 2020 Heinrich Wieland Prize to Professor Craig M. Crews of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, for pioneering targeted protein degradation as a new principle in pharmacology. His research has opened the way for entirely new treatment options for numerous diseases, including certain types of cancer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the personal presentation of our 2020 award and scientific symposium have been postponed until 2021. Details on the rescheduled event will be published on the Heinrich Wieland Prize website.
The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation held a virtual event Starting up science: From lab to therapy on 2 November 2020 as part of Berlin Science Week. Professor Craig M. Crews, guest of honour at the event, met with Professor Christian Hackenberger in Berlin and Professor Andrea Tüttenberg in Mainz to discuss how ideas spawned from curiosity-driven research can pave the way for new therapeutic approaches and enable the successful founding of science-based start-ups in the US and Germany. At the end of the event, we invited the audience to participate in a discussion and share their own experiences.
For more information, please refer to our press release and on the websites Heinrich Wieland Prize 2020 and Berlin Science Week.
Jens C. Brüning from the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne, Germany, will receive the 2019 Heinrich Wieland Prize for his pioneering research on how the brain regulates energy metabolism.
Through elegant genetic studies in mice, Jens Brüning uncovered important and surprising roles of insulin signalling and established insulin as a critical signal for the brain to promote weight loss. He unravelled circuits in the hypothalamus that control the uptake, storage, and consumption of energy in the body and thus revealed fundamental physiological principles that will help to understand and cure prevalent metabolic diseases.
The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation presented him with the 100,000 euro award on 7 November 2019 in the course of an international scientific symposium.
Programme of the award symposium.
Here you will find the full press release
Pascale Cossart from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, is honoured with the 2018 Heinrich Wieland Prize for her fundamental contributions to the field of Molecular Infection Biology.
Cossart is recognized as a pioneer in "Cellular Microbiology", which combines molecular and cell biology approaches and was named by her. She uncovered the key elements and strategies that allow bacterial pathogens to enter and spread into host cells and tissues and demonstrated how a bacterium targets and crosses host body barriers. She worked mostly with the food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, which she established as a model system. It is now one of the best-studied bacterial pathogens. Her inspiring work paves the way to develop new therapies against bacterial infections.
The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation presented her with the 100,000 euro award on 22 November 2018 in the course of a scientific symposium.
Here you will find the full press release
Here you will find an image of mammalian cells infected by Listeria.
Professor Alexander Varshavsky, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, USA, receives the 2017 Heinrich Wieland Prize for discovering the biology of the ubiquitin system, a set of pathways mediating, among other things, protein degradation.
Varshavsky revolutionized our view of cellular physiology by showing that regulating protein degradation is as important as regulating protein expression. He identified key mechanisms of the ubiquitin system and the first degradation signals (degrons) in short-lived proteins. He was the first to reveal the biological functions of ubiquitin conjugation, e.g., in the cell cycle, DNA repair, cellular stress responses, protein synthesis, and transcriptional regulation. Varshavsky’s fundamental discoveries gave rise to major biomedical fields and led to new therapies. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation presented him with the 100,000 euro award on 19 October 2017 in the course of a scientific symposium.
Here you will find the complete press release
2016: Peter G. Schultz – Biologically inspired synthesis of new molecules and the expansion of the genetic code
The chemist Peter Schultz will be honoured with the 2016 Heinrich Wieland Prize for his fundamental contributions to the biologically inspired synthesis of new molecules and, in particular, for the expansion of the genetic code. Schultz, professor at The Scripps Research Institute in California, combines nature’s own methods with principles from the chemistry laboratory to create molecules with new functions to use as drugs, study life, or synthesize new materials. His findings have already led to the development of new drugs – some approved, others in the clinical trial stage – against degenerative diseases, cancer, autoimmune, and neglected diseases. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation presented him with the international 100,000-euro award during a scientific symposium on synthetic biology on 13 October 2016 in Munich.
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Gero Miesenböck was the first to install a light-controlled on-off switch in brain cells. The pioneering method allows researchers to selectively switch nerve cells on and off. In this way researchers learn in a step-by-step process what behaviour the studied brain circuits control and what goes awry in disease. For his method, hailed as a “breakthrough of the decade”, Professor Miesenböck of the University of Oxford received the 2015 Heinrich Wieland Prize.
2014: Reinhard Jahn – Paradigmatic studies on membrane fusion, synaptic vesicles, and neurotransmitter release
Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany
Reinhard Jahn received the 2014 Heinrich Wieland Prize for his ground-breaking studies on membrane fusion and neurotransmitter release – processes that occur when cells grow, transport substances, or send signals. He developed a still-valid model for membrane fusion, whereby so-called SNARE proteins sitting on the surfaces of two membranes interlock with each other in the manner of a zipper and thus pull the membranes closer and closer together until they fuse.
Cambridge University and the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Breakthroughs stemming from Professor Kouzarides’ research in the field of epigenetics have given hope for new anti-leukemic drugs. Epigenetics is the study of the cellular mechanisms that regulate gene expression or activity. Tony Kouzarides was awarded the 2013 Heinrich Wieland Prize for his pioneering and dogma changing discoveries in the field of epigenetics and their impact on cancer research.
2012: Carolyn R. Bertozzi – Pioneering achievements in chemical biology, in particular the innovative use of biorthogonal chemistry
University of California, Berkeley, USA
The 2012 Heinrich Wieland Prize honoured Carolyn Bertozzi’s pioneering research of the biological functions of sugar, and in particular her method of modifying cellular sugar chains (glycans) in the context of cancer, inflammations and infections. With her methodological breakthrough known as bioorthogonal chemistry, Bertozzi has opened the door to exploring the largely unchartered territory of sugar biology, thus paving the way for new diagnoses and therapies.
2011: Franz-Ulrich Hartl – Chaperone-assisted protein folding and its impact on neurodegenerative diseases
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany
Franz-Ulrich Hartl received the 2011 Heinrich Wieland Prize for his formulation of a new concept to explain how proteins adopt a defined, three-dimensional structure. Contrary to the previously held view that all proteins fold spontaneously and autonomously, Hartl demonstrated that protein folding is a complex process requiring the assistance of other proteins, known as chaperones.
English Website of the Heinrich Wieland Prize
For further information (call for nomination, former laureates, history, etc.) about the Heinrich Wieland Prize, please visit www.heinrich-wieland-prize.de.