Dr. Volker Busskamp, group leader at the DFG-Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD), Cluster of Excellence at the TU Dresden, will, receive the Paul Ehrlich- and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers, as announced by the foundation on Monday. The award, along with the 60,000 Euros, will be presented on the 14th of March 2017 in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt/Main.
Dr. Busskamp connects neurons that he obtains from induced pluripotent stem cells to create artificial circuits in a Petri dish and uses them to research the processing of information in the brain. Circuits in the brain use many types of neurons, and Dr. Busskamp is searching for the combinations of transcription factors that enable him to precisely control the differentiation of stem cells into these different types. Through this, he hopes to soon be able to create many of the 320 different neuronal cell classes and use them in artificial circuits. Prior to this, Dr. Busskamp worked on a form of hereditary blindness called Retinitis pigmentosa. He succeeded in restoring partial vision to blind mice through the use of gene therapy. This is has led to clinical trials. Additionally, Dr. Busskamp identified two short sequences of RNA, responsible for the light sensitivity of receptor cells in the retina. He was able to show that these RNA molecules could be targets for therapies.
“Busskamp’s great range of ideas, as well as his outstanding technical ability, are the basis for his success” stated the board of trustees in support of their decision.
“I am very excited about the Paul Ehrlich- and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers” says Dr. Busskamp. “It is a great honor and recognition of my research. This prize encourages me, along with my team, to pursue the generation of human neurons and functional circuits in order to explore diseases and potential therapies.”
Dr. Volker Busskamp has studied biotechnology at the TU Braunschweig before he completed his PhD thesis in neuroscience in the laboratory of Professor Botond Roska at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland in 2010. Afterwards, he joined Professor George Church’s laboratory at the Harvard Medical School in Boston as a postdoctoral fellow focusing on stem cell research and systems biology. In 2014, Volker Busskamp joined the CRTD at TU Dresden as a research group leader. Dr. Busskamp has been supported by the Freigeist-Fellowship of the VolkswagenStiftung, as well as by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC).
The Paul Ehrlich Foundation is a legally dependent foundation, which is managed in a fiduciary capacity by the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.