Heinrich Draeger Research Award 2015

  • Willkomm, Sarah (Award Recipient)

Prize: Awards of the University of Luebeck

General Description

Sarah Willkomm received the 2015 Heinrich Draeger Science Award in recognition of her technical publication "Minimal mechanistic model of siRNA-dependent target RNA slicing by recombinant human Argonaute 2 protein," which she published in shared first authorship with Andrea Deerberg as well as with Tobias Restle in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [(2013) PNAS 110(44), 17850-5, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217838110].
In the paper, the authors studied the human Argonaute 2 protein using biochemical analysis techniques. This protein molecule is the key component of a complex process for regulating our genes called RNA interference. Malfunctions of this process lead to a variety of serious diseases, including cancer. On the other hand, molecular medicine exploits this process to combat precisely such diseases through targeted therapeutic interventions - an approach that is, however, still at a fairly early stage. On the basis of the analyses carried out, the team was able for the first time to develop a mechanistic model of these complex regulatory processes in our body's cells. This model, in turn, forms the basis for understanding the cellular processes at the molecular level and for developing concepts for possible therapeutic application. The analyses thus provide an important experimental basis for developing potential drug candidates in the future.
The analyses thus provide an important experimental basis for testing the efficacy of potential drugs in the future, for example against cancer, using comparatively simple test systems in the test tube.

As part of her postdoctoral studies at the University of Regensburg, Sarah Willkomm continues to work on studies to better understand RNA interference as a basis for developing potential therapeutic concepts.
Sarah Willkomm, born in 1985 in Lübeck, Germany, studied "Molecular Life Science" at the University of Lübeck from 2006 - 2011 and graduated with a Bachelor and a Master of Science. She completed her doctoral studies 2011 - 2015 at the Graduate School for Computing in Medicine and Life Sciences at the University of Lübeck. She then completed her PhD at the University's Institute of Molecular Medicine, supervised by Prof. Dr. Tobias Restle.

Once a year, the University of Luebeck awards the Heinrich Draeger Research Award in recognition of a particularly outstanding scientific publication whose work results were primarily generated at the university. The prize is awarded alternately to scientists from the STEM and Medicine sections. Doctoral researchers whose doctorate was awarded no longer than five years ago are eligible to apply.
Degree of recognitionLocal
Granting Organisations

Awarded at event

Event titleUniversity Awards 2015
LocationRathaus der Hansestadt Lübeck, Lübeck, GermanyShow on map

Research Area or Academic Center

  • Research Area: Medical Genetics